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Lawmakers Press SBA Administrator on Mismanagement, IT Security

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Washington, January 7, 2016 | comments

Chabot: “What we have here is a failure of confidence in the SBA”

Agency Only Implemented 7 of 69 GAO Recommendations 

You can view today’s hearing with SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet here

Today, members of the House Committee on Small Business pressed Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of United States Small Business Administration (SBA), on a recent GAO report detailing widespread mismanagement at the agency.

“The ongoing problems at SBA, as GAO identified, span the entire breadth of your Agency,” said Full Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “From information technology and security to staff management issues, from disaster response to fraud in your lending and contracting programs, it’s a safe bet that the small businesses in our districts are paying the price for the Agency’s failures.”

Highlights from today’s hearing:

“If I were you, I’d start with these IT and cybersecurity deficiencies. That’s what worries me the most, and I’ll tell you why,” Chairman Chabot suggested, noting that SBA had failed to implement 30 GAO recommendations related to IT security.  “We’ve seen the IRS hit, the State Department, OPM, and even the White House hacked. Small businesses trust the SBA with information they don’t want a rival business, their neighbors, or the Chinese Government to have access to. Yesterday, GAO told us this information isn’t adequately secured. That cannot continue.”

“When you say you’re doing this according to all these protocols and you have a GAO study that says you’re way behind in getting these things done with regards to their assessment, when you have Standard Operating Procedures that are being called into question, I’m not sure that citizens can have great faith in what you’re saying. It certainly concerns me but I do appreciate your willingness to work on it,’ observed Small Business Committee Vice Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO).

“One of the complaints we here most frequently about government is that it’s dysfunctional, incompetent and unaccountable,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). “One of the things that struck me the most is that the GAO perceives a breakdown of communications at the SBA that employees don’t have forums in which they can’t express their frustration, perhaps their views on how things can be done differently.”

“From my very first days in office, I have prioritized the need to modernize SBA’s operations, enterprise-wide, to respond to the technological, demographic and globalization changes that are transforming our small business economy,” said Administrator Contreras-Sweet. “To that end, I agree with many of the GAO’s recommendations and appreciate this opportunity to update you on our efforts to bring SBA fully into the 21st century.”

In her testimony, Administrator Contreras-Sweet committed to providing the Committee with monthly updates on the progress the SBA is making to address the problems identified by the GAO report, including IT security.

You can read the full GAO report here and view GAO official William Shear’s testimony at yesterday’s hearing here

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Tags: Oversight