Economic Development:

Need To Determine Whether Existing Federal Programs Can Meet the Needs of Women Entrepreneurs

CED-81-90: Published: Apr 30, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the actions taken by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise to promote women entrepreneurs and to suggest ways to improve such activities.

The SBA and the Interagency Committee have not given enough attention to using existing SBA and other Federal resources to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. Their attention has been directed to designing new programs rather than determining whether existing Federal programs are or could be made responsible to women business owners. Many of the problems cited by women entrepreneurs are characteristic of small businesses and are not unique to women. On the other hand, social prejudices that were also identified, such as a credibility gap with contractors and bank loan officers, have undoubtedly intensified problems for some women. An Executive order requires that Federal departments take affirmative action in support of women's business enterprise through management, financial, and procurement assistance programs. The Interagency Committee was formed to help ensure that the order would be effectively executed, and the order directed SBA to support the Committee. An SBA Women's Business Enterprise Division was formed to give added visibility to SBA efforts to promote women's business enterprises, ensure that agency programs adequately considered the needs of women entrepreneurs, and provide staff support to the Interagency Committee. GAO found the lack of operating procedures to be a major problem for the Women's Business Enterprise Division. GAO also identified a need for better feedback from women receiving SBA assistance. GAO also found that the Interagency Committee has not provided adequate guidance to Federal agencies for implementing the Executive order.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should direct the Associate Administrator for the Women's Business Enterprise Division to provide the Interagency Committee with the staff support necessary to revise the interagency guidelines and to develop a more structured reporting system for monitoring and coordinating agency activities.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should direct the Associate Administrator for the Women's Business Enterprise Division to prepare position descriptions and guidelines describing the specific responsibilities of the women's field coordinator. These guidelines should address any responsibility for coordinating or monitoring other agencies' activities. Moreover, procedures should be prepared, and a reporting system developed, to monitor the field coordinators' activities.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should issue a directive specifying the line of authority between the Women's Business Enterprise Division and the women's field coordinators. This directive should also provide guidance to the Women's Division regarding interaction with other SBA program offices.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should direct the Associate Administrator for the Women's Business Enterprise Division to determine, in conjunction with the above evaluation, data requirements necessary to continually monitor the responsiveness of SBA programs to the needs of women business owners. When this determination is made, reporting forms should be modified, to the extent possible, to satisfy these data requirements.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should direct the Associate Administrator for the Women's Business Enterprise Division to establish procedures governing the Division's operation, including how it will interact with other SBA units.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) should direct the Associate Administrator for the Women's Business Enterprise Division to evaluate whether existing SBA programs are, or can be made, responsive to women entrepreneurs.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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