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Office of the National Ombudsman Article

Rating Criteria for Federal Agencies

1. Timeliness in responding to small entity comments.

  • 30 days or less = A

  • 31 to 60 days = B

  • 61 days to 90 days = C

  • 91 days to 120 days = D

  • Over 120 days = F

Notes:
Response time is calculated from the day a specific comment is forwarded to the agency until a response is received by the ONO. If after 120 days no response is received a grade of ‘F’ will be assessed for ‘Timeliness’. If circumstances warrant, ONO may accept justified requests for additional time to respond and/or interim responses. In these rare instances, ONO will take into consideration the specific circumstances when calculating ‘Timeliness’. For Timeliness purposes ‘Days’ are business days.

2. Quality of Response to small entity.

  • The agency addressed all of the applicable questions posed in ONO's letter and responded to the specific comment made by the small entity, providing sufficient detail information showing that they looked into the facts of the specific comment and the actions of the individual(s) agency personnel involved in the enforcement activity.

  • The agency response came from a high-level representative, i.e., someone from the SBREFA office at the agency or someone from the program office directly related to the comment.

Notes:
Grade ratings will vary according to the level of specificity and detail provided in the Agency response. For example, to receive an “A” rating all applicable questions are addressed in complete detail by a high-level responder.

3. Non-Retaliation Policies.

  • The agency has adopted a written non-retaliation policy.

  • The agency ensures its employees and small entities are aware of its non-retaliation policy.

  • As used here, "non-retaliation" policies are those designed to prevent acts that punish small entities for complaining or commenting about an agency action. An agency must submit a copy of its policy and provide the specific web address for those policies available online.

4. Compliance Assistance.

  • The agency provides small entities with a compliance assistance telephone number.

  • The agency provides a compliance assistance website.

  • The agency makes a compliance assistance employee available to small entities.

  • The agency provides compliance assistance education.

5. SBREFA Notification.

  • The agency provides written notification of SBREFA rights to small entities.

  • When each citation or notice of regulatory violation is issued, the agency provides written notice to small entities about their right to comment about the enforcement/compliance process to the National Ombudsman's Office.

  • The agency provides the National Ombudsman's contact information, including its internet address, to small entities.

6. Supplemental Information.
 

Agencies may, and are encouraged to, submit additional information that demonstrates how the agency meets these SBREFA requirements. This may include specific examples illustrating how the agency promotes regulatory enforcement and compliance fairness for small entities, including individualized compliance assistance, the amount of fines abated, or other appropriate accommodations.