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As of February 9, 2020, there are 4958 open recommendations, of which 422 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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Recommendation: To more effectively implement SBA's expansion of OIT field staff as required by the SBJA, the Administrator of the SBA should update SBA's plan for additional OIT staff to include funding sources and time frames, as well as possible efficiencies from clearly defining roles and responsibilities and leveraging other entities' export assistance resources.
Agency: Small Business Administration Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: SBA concurred with our recommendations. In response to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (SBJA) requirement that a total of 30 export finance specialists be hired nationwide by September 2012, SBA noted resource constraints and filled only 19 positions at that time. In 2016, SBA reported progress toward the SBJA requirement despite agency staffing limitations and staffed a total of 21 or 70% of the 30 required export finance specialist (EFS) positions. SBA officials also reported that they had hired staff to replace retirements or other staff departures, but determined that because of finite funding resources it would not be feasible to hire additional OIT staff. They instead took steps to mitigate the shortfall by engaging other field office staff to more proactively market its international trade programs to small businesses. In particular, in 2017, as part a result of the new Administrations' Agency Reform plan, SBA undertook a Field Alignment Project. Specific to OIT, this project was intended to better leverage certain District office field staff such that they would increase outreach efforts to promote exports as required by the SBJA and in response to GAO's recommendations. This was done by assigning district staff new specific output goals intended to increase export promotion activities. In January 2020, OIT reported hiring four additional export finance specialists, bringing the total hired to 25. OIT also reported establishing a strategy for future hires to be assigned to existing Export Assistance Centers, and requesting fiscal year 2021 funding to hire individuals to fill the remaining five positions. While these steps partially mitigate the shortfall and are in the spirit of the SBJA requirement and GAO's recommendations, as of January 2020 SBA has not yet achieved the 30 export finance specialists required by the SBJA.