Economic development programs-- administered efficiently and effectively--can contribute to the well-being of the economy at the least cost to taxpayers. Such programs can encompass small business development and contracting. To encourage such contracting, Congress created programs--such as the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), service-disabled veteran-owned small business, and 8(a) Business Development programs--that give contracting preferences to some types of small businesses: in economically distressed communities; to those owned by service-disabled veterans; and to those with eligible socially and economically disadvantaged owners. This testimony addresses (1) potential duplication in economic development programs and (2) internal controls weaknesses in three small business programs. This testimony is based on related GAO work from 2008 to the present and updates it as noted. GAO examined programs at the Departments of Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assess program overlap, collaboration, and measures of effectiveness (GAO-11-477R). GAO also reviewed data from SBA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and conducted site visits. The reports identified opportunities to increase program efficiencies and made recommendations to improve internal controls and develop outcome-oriented measures.
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