(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBC), sent a letter today to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG). The letter asks for them to prioritize the $14 million funding request from the Biden administration for the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (OIG). The funding would help OIG continue its vital work investigating fraud within the Small Business Administration’s COVID relief programs.

In her letter, the Chair wrote: “Unfortunately, many unscrupulous actors viewed our collective commitment to help deserving small businesses as an opportunity to defraud the American taxpayer. While the vast majority of fraud occurred in the early days of the pandemic, the hard work of tracking down those who took advantage of these relief programs will take years to accomplish.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Chair Shaheen also pointed out how the $14 million request is just the minimum amount necessary for the OIG to maintain its current caseload and staffing levels, and that the OIG has returned more than $13 billion to the federal government over the last three years despite an annual budget of less than $24 million.

“The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee included more than $47 million in funding for OIG in the bill passed out of committee this July, which was a substantial increase compared to the previous year’s appropriation. Since then, however, the president has asked Congress for an additional $14 million for OIG as part of his supplemental request for critical domestic needs. This amount is the minimum that would be necessary simply to allow the office to retain its current investigative team and maintain its current caseload.

“OIG has been a leader in the fight against COVID-era fraud and has shown that it can deliver impressive results with the limited resources available to it. We have seen that its rate of return on investment is substantial and that the dollars it receives are put to productive use. But beyond the simple matter of making good on Congress’s investment in COVID program enforcement, our support for OIG also sends an important message to those who would consider taking advantage of lifelines like PPP, EIDL and SVOG in the future. While we will never waiver in supporting the nation’s small businesses in a time of crisis, we are equally determined to punish those who would shamelessly and opportunistically defraud the American taxpayer,” continued Chair Shaheen.