Over the past 6 years, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has sought to transform the agency and improve its operations. A major focus of transformation was to centralize the remaining loan functions performed by 68 district offices. SBA's implementation of early transformation efforts did not reflect key practices GAO recommended in a 2003 report as important for successful transformations. Consequently, its centralization of the guaranty purchase process for one of its loan programs resulted in backlogs and other problems reported by SBA's Inspector General. Some of SBA's actions also led to a reduction in staff at district offices and a decline in employee morale. GAO was asked to assess how SBA has (1) responded to GAO's 2003 recommendations, (2) addressed the impacts of transformation on employees, (3) defined the roles and responsibilities of district offices, and (4) assessed the centralization of loan functions. GAO reviewed documents related to SBA's transformation and reform efforts, interviewed SBA officials, and analyzed SBA employee survey data. GAO also visited 10 district offices and two centers and interviewed groups of employees.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Small Business Administration||To support SBA's development of a core curriculum for SBA University and communicate SBA's training development efforts to employees, the Administrator of SBA should develop a strategic training plan with specific goals, strategies, and milestones.|
|Small Business Administration||To ensure that its streamlined purchase guaranty process also provides an incentive to focus on quality and thereby results in good purchase decisions, the Administrator of SBA should develop performance measures that will provide information on the quality of its guaranty purchase reviews.|