The U.S. Export-Import Bank:

The Bank Provides Direct and Indirect Assistance to Small Businesses

GGD-92-105: Published: Aug 21, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 1992.

Additional Materials:


Allan I. Mendelowitz
(202) 512-4812


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Export-Import Bank's (Eximbank) compliance with the small business set-aside provision of the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, focusing on: (1) the quality of Eximbank small business data; (2) the amount of export financing Eximbank made available directly to small businesses; (3) whether Eximbank properly included indirect financing to subcontractors in its small business set-aside calculation; and (4) recent developments in Eximbank efforts to assist small businesses.

GAO found that: (1) Eximbank uses estimates made by large exporters and an insurance association to calculate the amount of assistance it provides to small businesses, which makes its data unreliable; (2) because the law provides no clear guidance, Eximbank includes indirect assistance to small businesses in its calculation of its compliance with the 10-percent set-aside provision, which was not Congress' intent; (3) when indirect assistance was excluded, Eximbank did not meet the 10-percent requirement in 2 of the 6 years examined; and (4) Eximbank has increased its efforts to provide greater assistance to small businesses by establishing a group to centralize, coordinate, and integrate its small business activities, streamlining the approval process of some assistance applications, and changing several programs.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was acted upon by Congress, and the President, on October 21, 1992, signed implementing legislation.

    Matter: If Congress intends that only direct assistance to small businesses be included in calculating Eximbank compliance with the set-aside requirement, it may wish to consider amending the Export-Import Bank Act to provide Eximbank with more specific guidance on this matter.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Eximbank's Small Business Group has reviewed its small business data and is revising its methods for estimating the amount of insurance it provides to small businesses.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, Eximbank, should review the accuracy and reliability of its small business data, including the collection and verification of data and the estimates used.

    Agency Affected: Export-Import Bank of the United States

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Eximbank is preparing separate statistics on direct and indirect assistance for its 1992 annual report, due out by summer 1993. The recommendation is no longer applicable because the Export Enhancement Act of 1992 explicitly directs Eximbank to provide assistance directly to small businesses.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, Eximbank, should report separately on direct and indirect assistance to small businesses in its annual reports, unless or until the legislation is made more explicit.

    Agency Affected: Export-Import Bank of the United States


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