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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs - R41352

Robert Jay Dilger

Senior Specialist in American National Government

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided technical and managerial assistance “to small-business concerns, by advising and counseling on matters in connection with government procurement and on policies, principles and practices of good management” since it began operations in 1953. Initially, the SBA provided its own small business management and technical assistance training programs. Over time, the SBA has relied increasingly on third parties to provide that training.

Congressional interest in the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs has increased in recent years, primarily because these programs are viewed as a means to assist small businesses in creating and retaining jobs. Congress recommended that the SBA provide its management and training programs $164.848 million in FY2013. After sequestration, a required 0.2% reduction in the SBA’s budget, and account transfers, the SBA provided its management and training programs $149.783 million in FY2013 (a reduction of $15.065 million or 9.1%).

These programs fund about “14,000 resource partners,” including 63 lead small business development centers (SBDCs) and more than 900 SBDC local outreach locations, 108 women’s business centers (WBCs), and 354 chapters of the mentoring program, SCORE. The SBA reports that more than 1 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners receive training from an SBA-supported resource partner each year. The SBA argues that these programs contribute “to the long-term success of these businesses and their ability to grow and create jobs.”

The Department of Commerce also provides management and technical assistance training for small businesses. For example, its Minority Business Development Agency provides training to minority business owners to assist them in obtaining contracts and financial awards.

A recurring theme at congressional hearings concerning the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs has been the perceived need to improve program efficiency by eliminating duplication of services or increasing cooperation and coordination both within and among SCORE, WBCs, and SBDCs. For example, the House Committee on Small Business has argued that the SBA’s various management and technical assistance training programs should be “folded into the mission of the SBDC program or their responsibilities should be taken over by other agencies” because they “overlap each other and duplicate the educational services provided by other agencies.” Congress has also explored ways to improve the SBA’s measurement of the programs’ effectiveness.

This report examines the historical development of federal small business management and technical assistance training programs; describes their current structures, operations, and budgets; and assesses their administration and oversight and the measures used to determine their effectiveness. It also discusses several bills introduced during the 111th and 112th Congresses that would have authorized changes to the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs in an effort to improve their performance and oversight, including S. 3442, the SUCCESS Act of 2012, and S. 3572, the Restoring Tax and Regulatory Certainty to Small Businesses Act of 2012. In addition, during the 113th Congress, S. 415, the Small Business Disaster Reform Act of 2013, and its companion bill in the House, H.R. 1974, would authorize SBDCs to provide assistance to small businesses outside of the state, without regard to geographic proximity, if the small business is located in a presidentially declared major disaster area.

Date of Report: December 16, 2013

Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R41352

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Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs - R41352