Small Business Administration: Undercover Tests Show HUBZone Program Remains Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse

GAO-10-759 Published: Jun 25, 2010. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2010.
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The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program provides federal contracting assistance to small firms located in economically distressed areas, with the intent of stimulating economic development. In July 2008 and March 2009, GAO reported on substantial vulnerabilities to fraud and abuse in the HUBZone application and monitoring process. GAO also found 10 HUBZone firms in the Washington, D.C., area and 19 firms in four other metropolitan areas in Alabama, California, and Texas that made fraudulent or inaccurate representations to get into or remain in the HUBZone program. Given the Committee's continued concern over fraud and abuse in the HUBZone program, GAO (1) performed additional proactive testing of SBA's HUBZone certification process, and (2) determined whether SBA has taken any actions against the 29 case study firms GAO identified in its prior work. Using publicly available resources to fabricate documents, GAO proactively tested SBA's application process by applying for HUBZone certification for four bogus businesses with fictitious owners and employees. GAO also interviewed SBA officials and reviewed SBA data about the 29 case study firms. GAO did not attempt to project the extent of fraud and abuse in the program nor systematically assess HUBZone program controls.

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