Audit Report 12-21: Review of SBA’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program
Date Issued: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Report Number: 12-21

This report presents the results of our audit, Review of SBA’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program.  We reviewed the five largest grants, awarded to California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Michigan, and Illinois, in order to determine whether grant recipients were measuring program performance, as well as the results of those measurements.  In addition, we reviewed the overall management and effectiveness of the STEP grant program.

We found that grant recipients’ performance measures did not demonstrate whether STEP program goals were achievable.  Specifically, grant recipients’ metrics were not adequate to measure performance.  In addition, SBA personnel did not meet with Congress to identify and clarify the FY 2011 STEP program measures for success.  Further, the SBA mismanaged the STEP grant program, which may result in misspent funds and a failure to achieve intended results.  For example, personnel from the SBA Office of International Trade and the Office of Grant Management awarded a grant to an ineligible applicant, provided untimely and inaccurate responses to inquiries, and failed to enforce grant terms and conditions.  The audit team recommended a total of nine specific actions that we believe will improve the accountability and performance of the STEP grant program.