Federal programs to aid entrepreneurs overlap

Acting United States Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Acting United States Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Paul Sancya/AP

Agency efforts to support private entrepreneurs are ineffectual and fragmented, according to Government Accountability Office research on 52 programs in such departments as Agriculture, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development.

In a paper dated Aug. 23, auditors identified overlap among initiatives to offer grants, loans and technical training to businesses and found that too few agencies track the assistance they provide, resulting in a failure of 19 programs to meet performance goals.

The report said Agriculture and the Small Business Administration, for instance, “entered into a formal agreement in 2010 to coordinate their efforts to support businesses in rural areas; however, the agencies’ programs that can support startup businesses -- such as USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant program and SBA’s Small Business Development Centers -- have yet to determine roles and responsibilities, find ways to leverage each other’s resources, or establish compatible policies and procedures.”

Too many agencies, auditors said, rely on data summaries in narrative format rather than on data that can be easily aggregated or analyzed.

While some agencies have taken initial steps to improve how they collaborate by entering into formal agreements, GAO said, many have not pursued a number of collaborative practices GAO has previously identified. These include joint strategies to leverage resources, determine roles and identify common outcomes.

In comments on a draft of the report, some agency heads said auditors had misrepresented their work and disagreed with the definition of duplication. For example, acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, suggested GAO look into the need for “varied but complementary” programs to address the special circumstances of entrepreneurs. “What may appear as duplication at a higher level is in reality a portfolio of distinct services meeting unique needs,” Blank said.

The GAO report was part of a series documenting duplication in federal programs.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.