Report 16-12, The Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business Grant Award

Date Issued: 
Monday, March 28, 2016
Report Number: 

OIG’s Audit Report 16-12, The Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business Grant Award, presents the results of our audit of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Boots to Business (B2B) grant award.  SBA designed the B2B Program to provide transitioning service members interested in exploring business ownership or other self-employment opportunities with technical assistance and access to information on available resources and start-up capital.  

We found that SBA designed and included in its program announcement a process to evaluate B2B grant applications.  However, reviewers responsible for evaluating and scoring applications did not consistently follow evaluation guidance.  Additionally, although officials in the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) met with the reviewers to discuss which applicant should be selected to receive the $3 million award, SBA has no documentation delineating or rationalizing its final selection of Syracuse University.  Because SBA lacked such documentation, it could not demonstrate that it made a merit-based selection in awarding the grant.  Overall, these issues may have been prevented if officials in the Office of Grants Management and OVBD had provided effective oversight and SBA had a current Standard Operating Procedure for grants management that (1) provided clear guidance on how to develop program-specific review criteria, (2) clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of grants and program personnel involved in the evaluation process, and (3) ensured grants and program personnel maintained a record of the evaluation process.  OIG made four recommendations to improve SBA’s oversight of grants management.  SBA management’s planned actions resolve these recommendations.

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