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GAO Report Finds Gaps in Collaboration On Federal, State Export Promotion Efforts

Bloomberg BNA: GAO Report Finds Gaps in Collaboration On Federal, State Export Promotion Efforts
By GAO Report Finds Gaps in Collaboration On Federal, State Export Promotion Efforts i
June 4, 2014


Export Promotion Efforts

Key Development: The Government Accountability Office releases a report examining state, local and federal collaboration on export promotion efforts.

Next Steps: The GAO makes a number of recommendations for improving collaboration, including enhancing federal information-sharing with state trade offices where possible, on the Commerce Department's export promotion efforts.

June 4 (BNA) -- Gaps in collaboration among federal government trade agencies and state trade offices may result in inefficient use of the limited resources available for export promotion, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released June 4.

Although the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) has initiatives designed to advance federal-state collaboration on export promotion, results of these efforts have been limited in part due to the failure to follow consistently key collaboration practices, the GAO said. The GAO's prior work has found that collaboration is enhanced by following key principles such as agreeing on roles and responsibilities and articulating common outcomes.

According to the report, GAO investigators found weaknesses in the implementation of Export Outreach Teams, a TPCC initiative, in the states they visited. The Export Outreach Team concept is a Commerce and Small Business Administration Initiative aimed at strengthening local networks of export service providers.

The report said the TPCC's involvement in an initiative to engage metropolitan areas in export promotion has “unknown implications” for federal export promotion efforts and resources since Commerce does not have a way to monitor the initiative's results. The GAO also said an agreement between Commerce and a group representing state trade offices expired without reaching its collaboration objective.

The report recommended that the interagency TPPC take steps consistent with key practices for collaboration, expand TPPC agencies' collaboration on export promotion with nonfederal entities and enhance information-sharing with state trade offices. The GAO also urged the TPCC to improve implementation of the Export Outreach Teams to better achieve their intended objectives.

Exports Fall Short of Export Initiative Targets

The 2010 National Export Initiative (NEI)—aimed at doubling U.S. exports by 2015—calls on the federal government to step up coordination with state and local partners on export promotion efforts. U.S. exports reached record levels in 2013 but still have fallen short of levels needed to reach NEI targets, the GAO said.

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) asked the GAO to prepare the report. “More than 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside the borders of the United States, and the ability to serve these consumers is important to the future of small businesses and the American economy,” Graves said. “Unfortunately, too many small businesses have difficulty accessing and taking advantage of the variety of federal and state programs intended to help them reach these foreign markets. This GAO report provides important guidance to federal agencies that should help them improve their individual programs as well as better facilitate interagency coordination of federal small business export promotion efforts,” he said in a press release.