Small Business: The National Veterans Business Development Corporation Faces Challenges in Planning for and Achieving Financial Self-sufficiency

GAO-04-893 Published: Aug 30, 2004. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 2004.
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Highlights

The National Veterans Business Development Corporation (The Veterans Corporation) was created under Pub. L. No. 106-50 to provide veterans with small business and entrepreneurship assistance. The Act authorized, and Congress has appropriated to the corporation, $12 million in funding over 4 years, ending September 30, 2004. The Act also required that The Veterans Corporation implement a plan to raise private funds and become a self-sustaining corporation. GAO evaluated the corporation's: (1) efforts in providing small business assistance to veterans; (2) internal controls, including strategic planning; and (3) progress in becoming financially self-sufficient.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Veterans Business Development Corporation The Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Veterans Corporation and its staff should, to help guide programs and measure their effectiveness, develop measurable, outcome-oriented goals and objectives that take into account the increasing availability of outcome data over time.
Closed – Implemented
The Veterans Corporation (TVC) has revised its strategic plan for fiscal years 2008-2012. The 2008-2012 strategic plan contains metrics for its six corporate goals. For example, the strategic plan states specific dollar funding targets for its public/private fund raising initiatives. As another example, TVC identified the minimum number of states (at least 10) that it planned to provide veterans with classes under its education and training corporate objective. TVC identified a mix of quantitative and qualitative metrics for the other four corporate goals that appeared to be measurable and outcome oriented.
National Veterans Business Development Corporation The Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Veterans Corporation and its staff should, to potentially reduce overall expenses and aid in efforts to achieve self-sufficiency, analyze the extent to which The Veterans Corporation could reduce or eliminate the amount of the voucher given to graduates of its VET program without undermining demand for the program.
Closed – Implemented
The Veterans Corporation has moved away from the individual voucher program, which was used to support the former veteran entrepreneurial program, to a new veteran educational initiative, which focuses on providing grants to the eight regional hubs, and then allowing the regional hubs to manage these grants and to establish the appropriate pricing mechanism to support their educational programs for veterans. The veterans no longer receive any vouchers under the new veteran educational initiative.
National Veterans Business Development Corporation The Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Veterans Corporation and its staff should, to improve congressional oversight, include in its annual report to Congress comprehensive information and data relating to progress in achieving financial self-sufficiency, and key assumptions underlying self-sufficiency revenue projections.
Closed – Implemented
In its fiscal year 2007 annual report, The Veterans Corporation's (TVC) stated that it has told Hill staff since the fall of 2005 that it doubts that TVC can ever become "self sufficient." TVC's 2007 annual report noted that "TVC has told Congress bluntly that it has to decide whether it wants to fund TVC's important efforts, or whether they want TVC to cease operations and close up shop." Given the statements in the annual 2007 report, it appears that The Veterans Corporation has informed Congress about its status regarding its progress toward self-sufficiency.

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