Through the SBA, the Offices of Advocacy, National Ombudsman and Hearings and Appeals represent small businesses concerns. Learn what is being done to assist small business on issues concerning legislation, regulation and disputes. In addition, within our law library, you.ll find SBA reports, statistics, records, studies, and information on the latest laws and regulations affecting small businesses. Topics include:
America's small businesses -- some 25 million strong -- are the strength of our nation's economy. They account for 50 percent of the country's private non-farm gross national product, create between 60 and 80 percent of the net new jobs and are 13 to 14 times more innovative per employee as large firms are.
Despite their importance to the economy, small businesses are heavily burdened by the costs of government regulation and excessive paperwork. Advocacy research shows that firms with fewer than 20 employees annually spend 45 percent more per employee than larger firms do to comply with federal regulations.
In 1976, the U.S. Congress created the Office of Advocacy within the U.S Small Business Administration to protect, strengthen and effectively represent the nation's small businesses within the federal government's legislative and rule-making processes. The Office of Advocacy works to reduce the burdens that federal policies impose on small firms and maximize the benefits small businesses receive from the government. Advocacy's mission, simply stated, is to encourage policies that support the development and growth of American small business.
On June 3, 2009, Advocacy commented on the Environmental Protection Agency.s proposed rule, National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE).
Advocacy submitted one letter concerning the proposed RICE requirements overall and a separate letter solely addressing the proposed start-up, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) standards as applied to RICE engines.
June 3, 2009 Letter (requirements overall)
June 3, 2009 Letter (SSM standards)
Regional Advocate Steve Adams presented an Advocacy best paper award to Lucia Naldi and Mattias Nordqvist at the Babson Entrepreneurship Research Conference. Their paper, Family Firms Venturing into International Markets: A Resource Dependence Perspective, focuses on the degree of internationalization that a firm might undertake with increased non-family leadership and influence.
On May 26, 2009, Advocacy filed comments with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the economic impact of proposed critical habitat for the California red-legged frog on small farms in the state of California.
May 26, 2009 Letter
The May-June 2009 edition of The Small Business Advocate features the latest Small and Micro Business Lending Study, plus a look at Advocacy.s role in the national strategy to extend broadband access to all Americans. This issue also reports on important regulatory news for small employers.
The Small Business Advocate
The growth of small and microbusiness lending remained positive during the first half of 2008, although the expansion was slower than in the previous year, according to the latest edition of Advocacy.s annual study of lending to small firms. This new report, Small Business and Micro Business Lending in the United States for Data Years 2007-2008, gives a detailed account of small business lending overall, plus state-by-state totals and totals for individual lenders.
The economic recession deepened in the first quarter of 2009, with real gross domestic product falling by an annualized 6.1 percent. Moreover, the unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent. These and other trends are discussed in the new update to the Quarterly Indicators: The Economy and Small Business for the first quarter of 2009.
Listed below are documents published in the Federal Register and open for comment that may significantly affect small businesses. Advocacy encourages affected small businesses to provide the Federal agency issuing the notice with comments on the proposed action and the agency's analysis of its potential impacts on small business. Please share with the Office of Advocacy your comments on these and other regulatory proposals of importance to small businesses. For a more complete listing of notices and rulemakings published for comment in the Federal Register, Regulations.gov is the Federal government.s one stop site to comment on Federal regulationsEnvironmental
Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Regional Fishery Management Councils; Operations
On March 27, 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a proposed rule on Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Regional Fishery Management Councils; Operations. The proposed rule addresses the administration and operations of the regional fishery management councils. In addition, the proposal would make changes to the regulations requiring Councils to provide procedures for proposed regulations, clarifying restrictions on lobbying, and clarifying timing in the Council nomination process. Comments are due on July 6, 2009.
Proposed Regulation Z: Docket No. R-1286
On May 5, 2009, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued a proposed rule to amend Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). On December 18, 2008 the Board adopted a final rule amending Regulation Z.s provisions that apply to open-end (not home-secured) credit plans. In order to clarify the rule and facilitate compliance, the Board proposes to amend specific portions of the regulations and official staff commentary. Comments are due on July 6, 2009.
Temporary Alternative Size Standards for 7(a) Business Loan Program
On May 5, 2009 the Small Business Administration (SBA) published an interim final rule with request for comments on Small Business Size Standards; Temporary Alternative Size Standards for 7(a) Business Loan Program which temporarily establishes the same alternative size standard that applies to SBA.s Certified Development Company Program. The rule is effective immediately. However, SBA is receiving comments on the rule until August 3, 2009.
1. June 23, 2009, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST
2. July 15, 2009, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST
3. July 22, 2009, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST
4. July 29, 2009, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST
5. August 5, 2009, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST
6. August 12, 2009, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST
Federal Acquistion Regulation Payments Under Fixed-Price Architecture and Engineering Contracts
This rule proposes to revise FAR 52.232-10 to permit contracting officers to use their judgment regarding the amount of payment withhold to apply under fixed-price architecture-engineer contracts (based on an assessment of the contractor's performance under the contract) so that the withhold amount will be applied at the level necessary to protect the Government's interests. This is in contrast to the current requirement that contracting officers withhold 10 percent on all payments. The rule also makes several related editorial changes including one that clarifies that the contractor will be paid any unpaid balance due to include withheld amounts at the successful completion of the design work. This case originated from a recommendation in the Small Business Administration's Regulatory Review and Reform (r3) initiative. Comments are due by July 6, 2009
Federal Acquisition Regulation; FAR Case 2007-013, Employment Eligibility Verification
The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (Councils) have agreed to delay the implementation of a final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation to require certain contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify system administered by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as the means of verifying that certain of their employees are eligible to work in the United States. The effective date was January 15, 2009.
On January 9, the federal government Jan. 9 agreed to postpone implementation of an executive order and a related federal procurement law that required federal contractors to use E-Verify, after a coalition of business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit challenging the rule.
The federal government agreed to delay implementation of the rule until August 16, 2009.
The National Ombudsman's primary mission is to assist small businesses when they experience excessive or unfair federal regulatory enforcement actions, such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation or other unfair enforcement action by a federal agency.
The National Ombudsman receives comments from small business concerns and acts as a liaison between them and federal agencies. Comments received from small businesses, are forwarded to federal agencies for a high level review and federal agencies are requested to consider the fairness of their enforcement action.
A copy of the agency's response is sent to the small business owner by the Office of the National Ombudsman. In some cases, fines have been lowered or eliminated and decisions changed in favor of the small business owner.
For instance, the Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor determined that a brewer and assistant brewer at a small Illinois brewery were not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). After spending several thousand dollars on attorney fees and many hours on appeal, the brewery owner filed a comment with the National Ombudsman and the federal agency reversed its decision.
In another case, a small importer in Maryland had been fined by U.S. Customs for failure to notify them in the time period prescribed by regulation of the presence of unentered merchandise eligible for general order. When, at the request of the National Ombudsman, U.S. Customs reviewed the comment filed by the small business owner, all monies were refunded.
*The National Ombudsman cannot change, stop, or delay a federal agency enforcement action, nor assist with comments of a non-federal regulatory nature. Neither can the office help secure government contracts nor assist with government loan processing or approval.
The Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), is an independent office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Small Business Administration established the Office of Hearings and Appeals in 1983 to provide an independent, quasi-judicial appeal of certain SBA program decisions.
OHA formally adjudicates disputes arising in numerous jurisdictional areas. These include appeals from SBA formal size determinations; appeals from Contracting Officer designations of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for procurements government-wide; appeals from certain SBA determinations relating to development companies; and appeals from Agency and Private Certifier small disadvantaged business determinations, all of which, by regulation, may be decided either by an Administrative Judge or an Administrative Law Judge. OHA's jurisdiction also include 8(a) BD program eligibility, suspension, and termination appeals; and salary offset appeals all of which, by statute, must be decided by an Administrative Law Judge.
The Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts (FOI/PA) Office is also a component of OHA. This office processes appeals from initial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Acts (PA) determinations; and provides FOI/PA technical guidance to other SBA offices.