|For Immediate Release: May 18, 2017
“If Congress really wants to help small businesses with federal regulations, invest more in this small business outreach, support and feedback loop.”
Bob Keener, ASBC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-610-6766
Frank Knapp, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, email@example.com, 803-252-5733
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 18, 2017)―The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which with its member organizations represents more than 250,000 businesses, calls on Congress and the Administration to support a bill introduced yesterday by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The legislation, Small Business Regulatory Relief Act, would expand the assistance provided by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of the National Ombudsman, which works with federal agencies across the government to review complaints made by small businesses, reduce or waive penalties, and reverse unfair agency decisions. In 2015, the Ombudsman assisted more than 400 small businesses and responded to thousands of written and phone inquiries. The United States has about 30 million small businesses.
“This important component of the rulemaking process is woefully underfunded,” said Frank Knapp Jr., co-chair of ASBC, who testified in March at an SBC hearing on regulations and championed more funding for the SBA Office of the National Ombudsman. “The Office of the National Ombudsman relies on volunteers to help get the message out about its vital small business services. It is for the most part unknown and thus underutilized. If Congress really wants to help small businesses with federal regulations, invest more in this small business outreach, support and feedback loop,” Knapp said in his testimony. Knapp’s full testimony may be found here.
“Small businesses are not against good regulations; they just need more support to be able to comply. In fact, our polling shows that small business owners across party lines want the government to provide better guidelines to protect everyone in the economy and enable a level playing field. They just need more support,” said David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council.
“We applaud Senator Shaheen in taking up this call and working to ensure that the National Ombudsman serve more small businesses and better represent the interests of small businesses before federal agencies. We remain committed to advancing this important effort,” he said.
Senator Shaheen’s bill empowers SBA’s Office of the National Ombudsman to:
Enhance outreach to small businesses. Most small businesses are unaware of the Ombudsman’s services. The legislation directs the Ombudsman to develop outreach initiatives to promote awareness and increase the office’s visibility.
Develop best practice guidelines for agencies to address small business regulatory concerns. Although federal agencies are required to provide compliance assistance programs for small businesses, the quality of these programs vary significantly. The legislation directs the Ombudsman to collaborate with federal agencies to develop best practice guidelines for federal agencies to help small businesses comply with rules through training webinars, compliance guides, and improved customer service.
Increase the visibility of the Ombudsman and enhance collaboration at federal agencies. The legislation establishes a single point of public contact at each federal agency to work with the Ombudsman to find fair regulatory solutions for small businesses.
Expand the ability of the Ombudsman to help small businesses selling to the federal government. To sell to the federal government, small businesses must navigate complex regulations established by each agency. The legislation ensures the Ombudsman can advocate on behalf of more small businesses by clarifying the office also covers federal contracting regulations.