SBA chief signals 2012 budget will eliminate some programs

President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget, scheduled to be released on Monday, will streamline, and in some cases, eliminate entirely, several small business programs, according to Small Business Administrator Karen Mills.

Last month, Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chairwoman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the panel's ranking member, sent a letter to Mills and SBA Inspector General Peg Gustafson seeking recommendations for programs that could be "eliminated, or substantially reduced without undermining the SBA's ability to serve the needs of small business owners."

On Friday, Mills responded in a one-page letter in which she declined to provide details of any program cuts before the fiscal 2012 budget is submitted to Congress.

But, in a sign of what might be on the horizon, Mills hinted that the agency, which already has experienced years of flat or declining spending, could face even leaner times.

"With respect to delineating specific programs that we believe are redundant or duplicative, on Feb. 14 the president will release his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, which will identify SBA programs that can be further streamlined, or in some instances eliminated altogether," Mills wrote.

It is not clear which programs are on the chopping block. In the letter, Mills said she, or SBA senior program officials, would be available to discuss the cuts after the budget has been released.

"Over the past two years, the agency has made considerable progress in this area," Mills wrote. "Plans are in place to continue to use technology and other cost-saving approaches to continue to streamline activities and make the best use of the taxpayers' dollars."

The IG's office said it has not yet completed its response to the letter.

The Senate committee is planning to hold a hearing this month on proposed SBA program cuts.

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