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SBA Still Suffering Management Nightmares

Updated on January 11, 2016

If irony could be played out in real time, it would look very much like what’s happening at the Small Business Administration. The government organization that prides itself in helping entrepreneurs build businesses is suffering a major management crisis. Yes, the company that demands you get all your ducks in a row can’t even find all its ducks.

Here’s the story…

According to the Associated Press, the House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot held a series of hearings recently based on reports of “widespread management deficiencies” at the very agency whose sole purpose is to help Americans start and build small businesses.

According to the reports, there have been lots of major management related issues at the SBA for a long time, but nobody has done anything about it. Why? The current popular reason is massive and consistent turnover at the highest level of operations. Now, you want consistency in your business, but the last thing you want is consistent turnover.

Worse, this problem has bled into the worst possible place: securing information technology. Yes, you read that right, the very place tasked with collecting and recording the personal information of millions of aspiring American business owners cannot adequately secure its IT. When it comes to management PR problems, there is probably no worse curse. If customers can’t trust you with their basic information, they will likely not trust you with anything at all.

And here’s the real hammer blow. The AP is reporting that GAO's Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment, William B. Shear told Chabot’s committee the SBA had implemented only 7 of the 69 different recommendations already suggested to stop the bleeding. 7 of 69 isn’t even in the same hemisphere as adequate. It’s like they’re not even trying.

Here’s what Shear said, "We found that senior SBA leaders have not prioritized long-term organizational transformation in areas such as human capital and IT. This raises questions about SBA's sustained commitment to addressing management challenges that could keep it from effectively assisting small businesses."

In other words, that’s a total vote of no confidence. They know they have these issues, and at least one expert simply believes they don’t care.

No matter what your management status, inaction is never a proper response to crisis. Simply shifting the blame by removing or exchanging managers accomplishes nothing. When you encounter a real problem – and inadequate IT protection is a HUGE problem – you need to address it immediately. Expect more bad news to come out of this story. Hopefully, soon, they will promote someone brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to actually make it right.

Gennady Barsky is a real estate mogul from NYC.

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