Chair Snowe, thank you for holding this hearing today. The position of deputy administrator has been vacant for 18 months (June 15, 2005), and so I am glad that the agency, and Administrator Preston, will soon have a deputy on board to help serve our small businesses. I also want to acknowledge the bipartisan way that you and your staff have handled this nomination, and more generally the way you have led this Committee in a bipartisan manner for the last four years. There has been a long tradition of bipartisanship on this Committee and when I re-assume the chairmanship in the 110th Congress, I plan to follow in that tradition.

I also want to thank my distinguished colleague, Sen. Mitch McConnell, for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and introduce Ms. Carranza to the Committee. We know how important your time is so it means a lot that you would take time to be here.

And to the nominee, I want to welcome you and your family members to our Committee. Ms. Carranza, I am glad we had the chance to meet yesterday and go over some issues, and I look forward to hearing more about how you plan to assume the responsibilities as Deputy Administrator at the Small Business Administration and address the needs of small businesses across the nation.

Ms. Carranza, the job of Deputy Administrator at the SBA is critically important. The Deputy Administrator has historically served as the day-to-day manager of the SBA in the Administrator's absence. In fact, the Deputy Administrator position was made subject to Senate confirmation with the passage of the Small Business Re-authorization and Amendments Act of 1990, precisely because the Congress recognized its importance to the management of the Agency.

Your resume and personal background are impressive. You’ve managed to climb the ladder at UPS and have left an enviable record of success. You have mentioned that a large part of your work at UPS centered around servicing small business owners. I am hopeful that your experience and success in corporate America will translate to your work at the agency.

As I stated earlier, the agency has a lot of work to do. First, disaster relief to the Katrina and Rita affected areas has gotten better, but the initial response was completely unacceptable. As of this week – well over a year after Hurricane Katrina – more than 46,000 disaster loans that were approved have yet to be fully disbursed. Many of those Americans simply gave up on the SBA. It’s inexcusable for Americans to still be waiting for their loans after that much time. For me, that’s an issue of basic competence that I hope you will help to address.

Second, we’ll be looking for improvement on the morale issues that we have seen at the agency for years. According to the Partnership for Public Service’s 2005 Best Places to Work survey, SBA has the lowest employee satisfaction of any federal agency. In 2003, the SBA ranked 24th out of 28 federal agencies in the same survey. Although low morale can be the product of many variables, I believe that one of the primary causes of consistently low morale is poor management. I’m interested in making sure that these numbers change. I hope and trust that you are interested in making sure that these numbers change as well.

And third, one of the things that directly effects the issues of competence and morale at the SBA is having the resources to do the job. As I’m sure you’re aware, the agency’s budget has been cut from $1.1 billion in 2000 to $624 million for the 2007 fiscal year. It is very difficult to have a motivated and competent workforce when the budget to support the mission that they have been tasked with is cut every year. I hope that you will be an advocate for getting the agency the resources that it needs to be effective. The SBA has continued to provide services to the small business community in difficult budgetary times. I believe that with more resources we will see an even better SBA than the one we have today.

Ms. Carranza, it is my hope and expectation that you will have a positive influence on the agency. There are many challenges that the agency must overcome to better serve the American people. I’ve stated a few of those challenges today, but as you begin the process of taking on this new position you will be confronted with many more. There is nothing harder than being a public servant, but also there is nothing more gratifying. I’m pleased to know that you are willingly entering this realm and I look forward to working with you and the agency in the future.