Similar Business Assistance Programs of Two Federal Agencies Have Potential for Duplication

CED-81-26: Published: Dec 31, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1981.

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The university-based management and technical assistance programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) were reviewed. Comparisons were made of the similarities, differences, and possible duplications between the programs.

The problem-solving or counseling assistance provided under both programs is alike in many respects. The EDA program emphasizes businesses located in economically distressed areas, while the SBA program helps the small business community in general. The limited number of SBA centers precludes its program from serving many of the States and areas now served by the EDA program. However, should either program expand in scope, duplication could become a problem. Neither agency has an evaluation system that adequately addresses the quality of the management and technical assistance services provided and results achieved by the centers, or the cost effectiveness of such assistance. Both EDA and SBA are relying on results reported by centers as a means of measuring program effectiveness; however, this information is not always valid. Comparing programs is difficult because of inadequate documentation of assistance rendered, not matching staff time and expenditures to program elements such as counseling of businesses, and wide differences in organizational structure and criteria for accepting clients. Unless improved, these conditions will hinder the agencies' efforts to evaluate program effectiveness.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Matter: Congress should reevaluate the need for both agencies to provide management and technical assistance using university based centers as delivery vehicles.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Assistant Secretary of Economic Development to provide criteria to centers on how to determine the results EDA requests centers to report, such as jobs created and saved or potential jobs created.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development to periodically check the consistency and validity of results centers report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of SBA should ensure that data being reported by the centers, for example, the form 1062, is accurate.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of SBA should stress to center officials the need for accurate data.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should require that the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and the Administrator of SBA modify their systems for evaluating the effectiveness of their university based, management assistance programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should require that the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and the Administrator of SBA modify their systems for evaluating the effectiveness of their university based, management assistance programs.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  7. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should require the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and the Administrator of SBA to consider the need for (1) uniform and consistent data at centers; (2) adequate documentation of assistance provided by centers; (3) criteria for centers to use in accepting clients/businesses; (4) matching center costs to program elements; and (5) measuring quality of counseling assistance and results achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  8. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should require the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and the Administrator of SBA to consider the need for (1) uniform and consistent data at centers; (2) adequate documentation of assistance provided by centers; (3) criteria for centers to use in accepting clients/businesses; (4) matching center costs to program elements; and (5) measuring quality of counseling assistance and results achieved.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  9. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should require the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Administrator of SBA to consider using evaluation teams comprised of individuals having the expertise and established credentials in the primary areas of counseling to (1) evaluate the qualifications of the principal center counselors for areas they counsel; (2) select cases at varying stages of completion and monitor/evaluate these counselors' methodology, judgments, and recommendations; and (3) assign values based on the levels of performance observed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  10. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should require the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Administrator of SBA to consider using evaluation teams comprised of individuals having the expertise and established credentials in the primary areas of counseling to (1) evaluate the qualifications of the principal center counselors for areas they counsel; (2) select cases at varying stages of completion and monitor/evaluate these counselors' methodology, judgments, and recommendations; and (3) assign values based on the levels of performance observed.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

 

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