The Office of Advocacy: The Voice for Small Businesses
by JimD, Former Moderator
- Created: November 16, 2010, 6:16 am
Have you ever felt that you are a little fish in an ocean of big businesses and other small businesses? Regulations pass in Washington and you do not know how they are going to affect your business. There is a way for you to get information you need, though - the Small Business Administratio;s (SBA) Office of Advocacy represents the views of small businesses to the federal government.
What is the Office of Advocacy?
Created by Congress in 1976, the Office of Advocacy was created as an independent office within the SBA to inform policymakers about small business contributions and represent all small businesses within the federal governmen-s rulemaking processes.
When new policies, especially regulatory policies are being considered, the Office of Advocacy makes sure they encourage start-up, development, and growth of the natio-s small businesses.
What Can the Office of Advocacy Do For Me?
- Regulation Monitoring
There are many regulations going through the federal government that affect small business. The Office of Advocacy tracks proposed regulations from all over the government and posts information on their website, where small business owners are encouraged to post comments.
For example, one regulation that The Office of Advocacy has is ADA Accessibility of Websites.
'DOJ is considering requirements to make websites accessible for people with disabilities. These regulations could affect governmental entities and public accommodations covered by the ADA that provide goods, services, programs or activities to the public via websites on the Internet. Title III of the ADA covers private entities whose operations affect commerce (such as restaurants, movie theatres, schools, daycares facilities, recreational facilities and doctor' offices) and commercial facilities (such as factories, warehouses and office buildings)'
In this example, DOJ is collecting feedback on the impact of web accessibility requirements on small businesses. The public, including small business owners, are invited to comment on how this proposed regulation would impact their business. This example, along with other cross-government proposals, is collected by the Office of Advocacy on their website, along with links to fact sheets and notices as well as an Advocacy point of contact. This can be a one-stop shop for small businesses to go to see what regulations are currently being considered.
While most of the regulation monitoring is on the federal government level, there are regional advocates that can provide guidance on state and regional regulations.
- Data and Research
The Office of Advocacy provides data and research about small businesses. On the Research and Statistics section of the website, you can find banking and finance, demographics, and regulations information.
The data from the Office of Advocacy is nationwide, but it also provides state economic profiles. If you are planning to start a business, you can use the Research and Statistics data as free market research. It breaks down by industry and number of firms. For example, in 2006, Pennsylvania had 25,600 firms with 1-19 employees in the Retail Trade industry. This can help you figure out if your industry always has large presence in a specific state.
If you feel that you need information that is more detailed or an analysis, you may want to hire someone to do it for you, but make sure you check for yourself first, since government data is free.
- Cost of Regulation Monitoring
Since its inception, the Office of Advocacy had been concerned with cost of regulation to small business. A 2004 study shows that small businesses continue to bear a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden due to economies of scale. Small businesses must follow the same regulations as big businesses, but have fewer resources to do it efficiently.
The Office of Advocacy continues to focus regulatory burden on behalf of small businesses. For example, on October 12, 2010, the Office of Advocacy sent a letter to the Department of Energy expressing concerns about new test procedures for walk-in coolers and freezers. Changes to the test procedures will affect small manufacturers more than larger ones.
How Do I Contact Them?
You can contact the Office of Advocacy can be contact by email, phone, fax, or letter.
Telephone: (202) 205-6533
Fax: (202) 205-6928
Office of Advocacy
U.S. Small Business Administration
Mail Code 3114
409 Third Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20416
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