SBA Tackles Employee Morale
The Small Business Administration has suffered from budget cuts and low morale. Even the head of the agency, Steven Preston, will tell you that.
When I talked to Administrator Preston last July, he spoke of the need to modernize the agency and offer better internal training programs for SBA staffers.
In today's Federal Diary column, Stephen Barr talks to Preston and looks at efforts the agency has taken to boost staff morale.
Two years ago, SBA employees gave their agency such low marks that the agency finished last in a Best Places to Work in the Federal Government index, worse than even the much-maligned Department of Homeland Security, writes Barr.
Preston began his job as top dog at the agency in July 2006, inheriting an agency that he characterizes in Barr's column as "flat on our back." It was overwhelmed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita and unable to keep up with thousands of disaster-relief loan applications for homes and businesses. Allegations of fraud and lax oversight of programs also "swirled around the SBA," writes Barr.
Preston said in the Federal Diary column that he thinks the SBA is "doing more to engage employees" but acknowledges that the current state of staff morale is "not ultimate victory."
At least two lawmakers who often are at loggerheads with SBA's performance are pinning part of the agency's problem on dwindling agency funding
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who chairs the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the panel's top Republican, sent a Jan. 8 letter to Jim Nussle, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, pointing out that since the Bush administration has been in office, the SBA's budget has been cut by 31 percent.
They urged the administration to include "sufficient funding" for the SBA's lending and business development programs in the president's fiscal 2009 budget request.
"America's small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy, having created 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade and generating more than half of the nation's non-farm private Gross Domestic Product," the legislators wrote.
By Sharon McLoone |
January 14, 2008; 3:08 AM ET
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