On November 20, 2007, the OIG issued Audit Report 8-05, Audit of Grant Disbursments to Women's Business Centers.This audit was conducted in response to a request from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The Committee requested that the OIG investigate the extent of delays with the grant disbursement process, and to make recommendations for improvements. The Committee had received complaints from WBC leaders about difficulties they encountered in applying for grants and receiving funds once the grants were awarded. The objectives of this audit were to (1) determine the extent of delays in the disbursement of grants to WBCs, and (2) identify improvements needed to expedite disbursements. The OIG also conducted a brief review of the WBC grant award process to identify opportunities to streamline grant awards.
The OIG found widespread delays in the disbursement of Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 and 2006 grants. Specifically, the SBA disbursed over 500 payments to WBCs for both new and sustainability grants in FY 2006. However, only 127 or about 25 percent were made within the Office of Management and Budget's goal of 30 days. The remaining 75 percent of the grants were disbursed between 30 and 350 days from when the SBA received the payment request. The audit also disclosed that several WBCs experienced delays so extreme that they were forced to seek funding elsewhere while attempting to resolve matters with the SBA.
The OIG made 10 recommendations to ensure that grant funds to WBCs are disbursed according to OMB guidance, and to improve and streamline the WBC grant award process.