SBA debuts BusinessLaw.gov

BusinessLaw.gov

The Small Business Administration on Dec. 5 unveiled a new Web site, BusinessLaw.gov, that will be the basis for one of the Bush administration's 23 cross-agency e-government initiatives.

The site (www.businesslaw.gov) is intended to provide a one-stop portal to help small businesses deal with legal questions, such as what licenses and permits are necessary at the federal, state and local levels to start a business; what environmental regulations impact their business; and how to handle employee problems.

Developed mostly by attorneys at SBA's district offices nationwide, the site walks users through the process for every matter. It provides links to other sites within the federal government, as well as sites at the state and local levels, at law schools across the country, and at private-sector partners and organizations.

The key, however, is helping business owners understand the legal processes, not just to point them to information, said Jim Van Wert, the senior adviser for e-government at SBA.

"This is really more about customer service and content than it is about technology.... It is really about figuring out what small businesses need and offering that up to them in one place," he said. "The point is to help self-educate."

SBA is the lead agency on one of the 23 e-government initiatives developed by the Office of Management and Budget and an interagency task force in four customer segments: government to citizen, government to business, government to government, and internal efficiencies and effectiveness.

The Business Compliance One Stop initiative, under the government-to-business segment, is intended to not only offer compliance information but also to enable business leaders to apply for permits and licenses from all levels of government online, Van Wert said.

The site's focus on customer service and its position as a functional resource for users is the direction OMB wants to push all government sites. BusinessLaw.gov is a great example of how the e-government agenda aims to simplify interaction with customers and unify back-end processes, said Mark Forman, associate director of information technology and e-government at OMB.

"It's the way that we've got to move forward," he said.

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