Published: Feb 27, 2023
by Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead
In Small Business News
Chairman Roger Williams and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez have issued statements regarding a joint letter they sent to President Joe Biden, urging him to nominate a Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.
The brief statements and letter were published via the House Committee on Small Business website, and briefly outlined the positions of both Williams and Velázquez.
Small Business Advocacy Role Still Vacant
Williams said: “The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy is a critical watchdog fighting on behalf of our nation’s primary job creators. It is essential the vacant Chief Counsel for Advocacy role is filled to ensure small businesses are defended against burdensome regulations. I urge President Biden to nominate a qualified candidate to this post and hope he sees the necessity of this position.”
Velázquez echoed the sentiment, adding: “The SBA Office of Advocacy serves as the independent voice of small businesses within the government, promoting the concerns of entrepreneurs before all three branches of the federal system. I look forward to working with the Administration to fill the position of Chief Counsel, so the Office of Advocacy can represent small firms as effectively as possible.”
Letter to the President
Williams and Velázquez’s letter to the President noted that the position of Chief Counsel for Advocacy has been vacant for what they describe as ‘far too long’, and that its filling should be a top priority.
The crux of the letter explained: “In many cases, the Office of Advocacy is the only government entity considering the impacts regulations may have on small business owners. The owners of America’s smallest businesses face significant challenges in understanding and complying with ever changing federal regulations. Many of these small businesses do not have the resources to hire a dedicated staff to ensure compliance with these regulations.”
The letter concludes that the role of Chief Counsel of Advocacy is uniquely positioned to inform relevant agencies of the challenges faced by small businesses.
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After a call from a key committee in Congress, President Joe Biden is being urged to quickly fill the role of a top official at the Small Business Administration’s watchdog office after the position has been empty for over a year.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is the small business watchdog at the Small Business Administration (SBA). This office serves a critical role in ensuring accountability and ensuring that those who receive federal funds comply with laws and regulations.
The head of the OIG is the inspector general, and the post has been vacant since June 2020 and is considered a key vacancy at the agency. Without an appointed IG, the agency has been operating without its chief watchdog since then.
Recently, the Small Business Committee of the United States Senate urged President Biden to take decisive action on filling the position and move quickly on the appointment.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who serves as chairman of the committee, sent a letter to President Biden and the SBA, expressing his concern about the lack of an inspector general.
He wrote, “The lack of an Inspector General for such an extended period of time is unacceptable, and your administration has a critical role in ensuring it is expeditiously filled”.
Cardin went on to say, “For over a year, the Agency has lacked a permanent inspector general – a vital partner in ensuring that the programs enforced by the SBA are administered appropriately and efficiently”.
The committee argued it was essential for an inspector general to be quickly appointed in order to maintain transparency and oversight of the SBA.
Biden responded quickly and assured lawmakers that the position will be filled promptly. In an email to the committee, the White House stated, “The Office of Inspector General is critical to maintaining the integrity of SBA programs and operations and the Office will be immediately staffed upon formal confirmation from the Senate.”
Cardin responded positively to Biden’s quick response, stating that he was pleased with the administration’s commitment to appointing an inspector general to the SBA.
The Office of Inspector General is a necessary office to ensure accountability in the Small Business Administration. The fact that the inspectors general role has remained empty for over a year is concerning and the calls from legislators to quickly fill the role will help ensure there is a necessary level of transparency and accountability in the agency.