Report 20-17

Evaluation of

This report presents the results of OIG's evaluation of

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This report presents the results of our evaluation of SBA’s most recent information technology (IT) initiative intended to improve SBA’s small business contracting programs, Certify.SBA.Gov (Certify). Our scope included Certify’s development, implementation, and oversight from its ratification in fiscal year 2015 to the end of fiscal year 2019.

In 2015, SBA initiated an IT investment to improve key applications for SBA’s contracting programs. Certify was envisioned to be the single gateway to all of SBA’s contracting programs and a vehicle to improve small business participation in federal contracts. The primary goal of Certify was to streamline the certification process and improve productivity by providing management views of in-progress applications, automate repetitive tasks, make document review straightforward, and provide tools for identifying fraud, waste, and abuse. SBA’s Business Technology Investment Committee ratified Certify’s objectives and approved an 11-year project lifecycle cost estimate of $45 million on May 20, 2015.

We found that Certify has not accomplished its objectives to significantly improve SBA’s certification processes or facilitate small business participation in federal contracts. Although SBA has spent more than $30 million on the development of Certify and it offers some improved functionality, it does not have many of the essential search, analytical, and reporting tools it was supposed to have. To compensate for Certify’s shortcomings, program analysts must use labor intensive methods external to the Certify platform, reducing Certify’s expected benefits for both SBA contracting program analysts and program participants.

We identified a need for improved planning and performance oversight throughout this project. As a result, Certify did not meet its original goal of improving SBA’s small business certification process, and the $30 million investment has not yielded its intended results. Moving forward, SBA plans to migrate to another platform to address Certify’s limitations. However, until SBA addresses these oversight weaknesses, there is a continued risk of repeating past project shortcomings.

We made nine recommendations to improve SBA’s system development and contracting program management in the following areas: requirements, baseline management, risk management, investment monitoring, and reporting. While SBA management agreed or partially agreed with all recommendations, its planned actions resolved three recommendations. We will work with SBA management to resolve the remaining six recommendations through the audit follow-up process.

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Effective: July 30, 2020
Owned by: Office of Inspector General
Related Programs: Related programs: Agency Management, Contracting
Last updated July 30, 2020