We evaluated the SBA’s handling of the grant to train small businesses on federal resources available in the wake of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized funds up to $25 million for SBA to administer a grant to an association or associations representing resource partner centers to establish a single centralized hub for COVID-19 information. We found SBA did not ensure the grant recipient developed and implemented an effective marketing and outreach strategy to ensure the hub successfully achieved the legislative purpose of the CARES Act. In addition, neither SBA nor the grant recipient set targets for any of the performance goals. SBA awarded $18.6 million for the informational and training hub. In the critical first year of the disaster response and launching the hub, less than 1 percent of the 30 million small businesses it was intended to help used it and only 62 of about 14,000 resource partner counselors and mentors completed any of the training modules. We found the grant recipient awarded contracts without assessing the reasonableness of contract costs in accordance with federal procurement requirements. We also questioned $14.8 million in costs that either did not adhere to procurement requirements or were not properly supported. We made five recommendations to improve the SBA’s oversight. SBA agreed or partially agreed with three of the five recommendations. The agency plans to implement corrective actions that will align performance goals with agency goals. It will also enhance oversight of the grant recipient’s compliance with award terms and federal requirements. Management disagreed with recommendations 4 and 5.
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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Inspection / Evaluation
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