The Office of the National Ombudsman at the U.S. Small Business Administration recently released its annual report to the 115th Congress, rating federal agencies’ responsiveness to the regulatory enforcement issues small businesses faced during fiscal year 2016.
Created by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act in 1996, the Office of the National Ombudsman works with each federal agency that has regulatory authority over small businesses to ensure regulatory issues are handled and enforced fairly. This annual report also provides highlights of the Office of the National Ombudsman’s accomplishments in the two decades since the office was formed.
The National Ombudsman provides a voice for small businesses in the federal regulatory enforcement process.
“The SBA Office of the National Ombudsman stands ready to work in collaboration with other federal agencies in realizing the President’s and the SBA Administrator’s ambitious goal of reducing the cost and complexity of regulatory compliance, while shaping a regulatory environment that will allow for America’s small businesses to prosper,” said Nathan J. Miller, SBA National Ombudsman and Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness.
During fiscal year 2016, the Office of the National Ombudsman addressed over 300 cases involving regulatory or compliance issues. To raise awareness of its offerings and the assistance it offers to small businesses, the Office of the National Ombudsman conducted more than 100 outreach events across 29 states.
Each agency receives a “grade” from the Office of the National Ombudsman, rating the agency’s responsiveness to small business regulatory enforcement concerns. These ratings are summarized on pages 28-29 of the annual report, and are based on four criteria:
- The agency’s timeliness and quality of response to small business comments
- Presence of a written non-retaliation policy
- The availability of regulatory enforcement compliance assistance offered to small businesses, and
- How the agency informs small businesses about the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, as well as their right to contact the Office of the National Ombudsman to file a comment or complaint.
The National Ombudsman recognized the U.S. Coast Guard, SBA’s Office of Capital Access, and SBA’s Office of Financial Assistance in its annual report for their outstanding efforts in responding to small businesses’ regulatory enforcement issues.
“Although agencies are required to respond to small business concerns in accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, small business optimism will likely continue to rise as federal agencies eliminate regulatory impediments to growth,” Miller said.
The National Ombudsman’s 2016 Annual Report to Congress and additional information about the Office of the National Ombudsman is available at www.sba.gov/ombudsman.