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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs

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 anticipates providing 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, 101 women’s business centers (WBCs), and 368 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 and to address the impact of national economic conditions on WBC and SBDC finances and their capacity to maintain client service levels and meet federal matching requirements.

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, the measures used to determine their effectiveness, and WBC and SBDC finances and their capacity to maintain client service levels and meet federal matching requirements. The report also discusses several bills introduced during the 111
th 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.

Date of Report: May 13, 2013
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: R41352
Price: $29.95

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