WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today questioned Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills and Inspector General Peggy Gustafson, as well as representatives from small business advocacy organizations, about the agency’s efforts to combat inefficiencies, waste, fraud and abuse in its programs and management.  Snowe, the Ranking Member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing, urged the agency to root out fraud and redouble its efforts to reduce inefficiencies in order to maximize the impact its valuable programs have on job creation and economic growth.

Senator Snowe said:

“There can be no clearer impetus for us to find ways to eliminate inefficiencies, duplication, and waste across the government than the current economic crisis.  Indeed, a recent Government Accountability Office report exposed massive duplication throughout our government, identifying 80 economic development programs across four Federal agencies – including the SBA, which administers 19 of the programs.  In our current fiscal climate, it is critical that we examine every taxpayer dollar our government spends and utilize our nation’s small businesses to spur private sector job growth.”

Several witnesses praised Senator Snowe’s efforts to combat waste, fraud and abuse in the SBA’s contracting program, including the Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act of 2011 (S. 633), legislation Snowe introduced in March to bolster fraud prevention at the SBA.  This bill includes provisions specifying damages sustained by the Federal government in cases of fraud, aims to standardize certification processes, and increases transparency when the government takes enforcement actions against firms.

Senator Snowe also sent a letter yesterday – in coordination with Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) – to Attorney General Eric Holder, inquiring about why the Department of Justice (DOJ) has declined to prosecute cases that were referred from the SBA IG.  From October 2010 through this March, DOJ refused to prosecute more than 20 identified cases of theft, conspiracy, corruption, embezzlement, and other criminal acts which have been found to defraud both the SBA and the taxpayer.  “I recognize that a cost-benefit analysis takes place when determining whether to try certain cases,” said Senator Snowe, “but if the Department continues to let incidents of corruption and fraud go unanswered, deterrence will be at an all time low.”

To view an excerpt from Senator Snowe's remarks, please click here.