SBA Grilled by Congress on Efforts to Spur Growth

By Charles H. Green

Washington Post writer J.D. Harrison reported that the House Small Business Committee launched a bipartisan attack on the U.S. Small Business Administration last week.

“Over the past couple years, the Small Business Administration has siphoned money away from some long-standing programs to launch new pilot initiatives intended to support AOL9entrepreneurs,” writes Harrison. “Many of those new programs were not authorized by Congress. Some lawmakers aren’t too happy about that. Others are flat out furious.”

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) told SBA officials, “Wasn’t it obvious to you that we’re not happy with you and your new programs? We’re not looking for new programs.”

Even perennial agency supporters, including Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), were critical. “Why spend money on initiatives that lack the proven track record and safeguards that other SBA programs have,” she said, arguing that the practice often results in “limited agency resources going to waste.”

Committee chair Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) offered his own opinion on the matter in a Post editorial. “New governmentprograms should not be created without significant congressional input and proper public debate. That process can be deliberate, but it also helps identify and prevent redundancy, inefficiency and waste,” said Graves.

They were talking about initiatives launched under former Administrator Karen Mills. One was to sharpen the business skills of qualified entrepreneurs with advanced training (which business lenders will recognize as an urgent need). Another was to prepare veterans to transition from military service to private enterprise. The funds were redirected internally as priorities were rearranged to meet the most pressing needs as assessed by the agency.

Count me as the among the unimpressed with Congressional griping. They know plenty about redundancy, inefficiency and waste – it’s how they operate every day. Finger wagging at any agency on the need to wait for Congressional initiative, directives and permission lands somewhere between calloused disregard for the executive branch and self-absorption. It’s the opposite of the dynamic decisioning response we need from government.

Congress has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars obsessed with 54 votes to rescind or deflect the Affordable Care Act. They’ve squandered four years without serious results that will spur economic growth or boost Main Street businesses. Instead they only focus on cutting more taxes for Wall Street, which has done nothing to grow the economy.

I don’t think they have much room to be lecturing anybody.

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