Budget would give SBA a 5 percent hike over 2006

President Bush’s fiscal 2008 budget request of $464 million for the Small Business Administration (SBA) represents a 5 percent increase over fiscal 2006. The budget includes $24 million in obligated funds for government contracting and business development, officials said today.

Officials explained in releasing SBA’s portion of the fiscal 2008 budget that the fiscal 2006 budget of $2.2 billion included $1.7 billion in supplemental funding for 2005 Gulf Coast disaster assistance. Subtracting that amount and $90 million in congressional initiatives brought the 2006 budget to $443 million. SBA's information technology budget for fiscal 2008 is $75.2 million, according to Sean Rushton, assistant administrator in SBA's Office of Communications and Public Liaison.

As of Jan. 31, the disaster relief program account had a balance of $639 million. Officials said SBA expects to have a balance of $428 million at the end of fiscal 2007, more than adequate for the projected needs for fiscal 2008 of $329 million.

“We’re looking to increase our financial capacity by about 40 percent over 2006,” SBA Administrator Steven Preston said. “That primarily has to do with our request to expand the amount of loans we are authorized to do.”

SBA said the budget would help small businesses get needed capital by eliminating upfront borrower fees. The agency also said it plans to continue to make operational improvements to accelerate the delivery of disaster loans.

Preston said SBA wants to continue to improve access to its automated Internet system. “There are a number of places where that is happening,” he said. “We’re looking, for example, right now at structuring an electronic application for disaster loans. Right now, there is not that ability.”

Preston said SBA is also planning to expand its Internet-type system that banks use to send loan information to the agency “so that we can do more with them seamlessly rather than over the phone or paper-based.”

In the next several years, SBA is planning to develop an electronic Procurement Center Representatives system that will automate the information about small businesses that is sent to other agencies.

“We’re working with the Department of Defense on that,” Preston said. “That is something that is in the ’08 budget, and I think that’s going to be a very important tool for proving the effectiveness of our contracting people in the field.”

When fully implemented, the system will allow SBA to analyze individual federal procurements more effectively and to give agencies greater ability to identify small businesses capable of providing requested goods and services, he added.

Preston said SBA is planning to hire seven full-time employees this year to deal with some procurement matters. “In ’08 we would expect to add another five,” he said.

The employees will work with various agencies’ contracting officers and examine procurements. The idea, he said, “is to help them see whether there are small businesses that they could be working with rather than having to go to large businesses.”

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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