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International Affairs: Export Promotion

Enhanced collaboration between the Small Business Administration and two other agencies could help to limit overlapping export-related services for small businesses.

Action:

The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should consult with the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Export-Import Bank and more clearly define roles and responsibilities of export promotion entities' export counseling and financing staff at the agency-wide and local levels, which could assist small businesses and federal partner entities' staff in understanding the various export assistance provided by different federal entities and maximize the use of government resources.

Progress:

SBA has more clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of export counseling and financing staff at the agency-wide and local levels, as GAO recommended. SBA had issued an interagency communique in December 2012, which spelled out a framework for clarifying roles and responsibilities in export promotion and trade financing and also enhanced and formalized the role of SBA-led Export Outreach Teams (EOT). The communique, which was issued to SBA’s nationwide network of over 900 Small Business Development Centers, envisioned that EOTs would play a key role in defining roles and responsibilities at the local level. However, the framework laid out in the communique was never fully implemented. Instead, in September 2016, SBA issued an information notice to all its employees, including staff in Small Business Development Centers and agency field offices that outlined agency roles and responsibilities for providing export promotion programs and services to small businesses in cooperation with other federal agencies and resource partners. According to SBA officials, they consulted with the Export-Import Bank and Commerce prior to finalizing this notice in order to better coordinate the delivery of the agencies’ trade promotion and financing programs and services. The notice’s guidelines are intended to help SBA employees deliver these programs and services and align SBA with interagency partners around the “No Wrong Door” policy, which was established by the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee and implemented through the December 2012 communique.

Implementing Entity:

Small Business Administration, Department of Commerce

Action:

The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should consult with the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Export-Import Bank and identify ways to increase, where possible, sharing of client information deemed useful for SBA, Commerce and the Export-Import Bank.

Progress:

SBA has consulted with Commerce and the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) and has begun to identify ways to increase sharing of client information deemed useful, as GAO recommended in January 2013. In July 2017, SBA procured the same client information management software used by Commerce and Ex-Im. According to SBA, the software will be used by export finance managers in the agency’s Office of International Trade, and the contract award shows that this is intended to facilitate the sharing of information among agencies. Further, as of August 2017, SBA officials told us they had begun discussions with both Commerce and Ex-Im about establishing protocols for sharing client information across this common platform. SBA’s acquisition of the same system as partner agencies facilitates greater sharing of client information where possible, thereby enhancing these agencies’ ability to collaborate and to ensure they efficiently manage export promotion services and leverage resources appropriately.

Implementing Entity:

Small Business Administration, Department of Commerce
  • portrait of
    • Kimberly Gianopoulos
    • Director, International Affairs and Trade
    • gianopoulosk@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-8612