Business Leaders Urge Congress to Support New Bill to Help Small Businesses Comply with Regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C.―The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which with its member organizations represents more than 250,000 businesses, calls on Congress and the Administration to support a bill introduced today by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ). The legislation, Small Business Regulatory Relief Act, would expand the assistance provided by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of the National Ombudsman (ONO), which works with federal agencies across the government to review complaints made by small businesses, reduce or waive penalties, and reverse unfair agency decisions. The United States has about 30 million small businesses.
“The ONO provides important regulatory compliance and navigation assistance to small businesses and feedback to the regulatory rule-making process. It is a woefully underfunded resource for small business,” said Frank Knapp Jr., ASBC Board member, who served on the U.S. Small Business Administration Regulatory Fairness Board (2015–2017), an advisory board to ONO. Frank Knapp is also the President/CEO/Co-Founder of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
“The Office of the National Ombudsman is the point of contact for
small business owners who feel they have experienced excessive
federal regulatory enforcement and compliance actions. It
relies on volunteers to help get the message out about its vital
small business services. It is for the most part unknown and
thus underutilized. If Congress really wants to help small
businesses with federal regulations, it should invest more in
this small business outreach, support and feedback loop,” said
“Small businesses are not against good regulations; they just need more support to help them comply. In fact, our polling shows that small business owners across party lines want the government to provide better guidelines to protect everyone in the economy and enable a level playing field. They just need more support,” said David Levine, President and Co-founder of ASBC.
“We applaud Senator Shaheen and Congressman Kim in taking up this call and working to ensure that the National Ombudsman serve more small businesses and better represent the interests of small businesses before federal agencies. We remain committed to advancing this important effort,” Levine said.
The bill empowers SBA’s Office of the National Ombudsman to:
- Enhance outreach to small businesses. Most small businesses are unaware of the Ombudsman’s services. The legislation directs the Ombudsman to develop outreach initiatives to promote awareness and increase the office’s visibility.
- Develop best practice guidelines for agencies to address small business regulatory concerns. Although federal agencies are required to provide compliance assistance programs for small businesses, the quality of these programs vary significantly. The legislation directs the Ombudsman to collaborate with federal agencies to develop best practice guidelines for federal agencies to help small businesses comply with rules through training webinars, compliance guides, and improved customer service.
- Increase the visibility of the Ombudsman and enhance collaboration at federal agencies. The legislation establishes a single point of public contact at each federal agency to work with the Ombudsman to find fair regulatory solutions for small businesses.
- Expand the ability of the Ombudsman to help small businesses selling to the federal government. To sell to the federal government, small businesses must navigate complex regulations established by each agency. The legislation ensures the Ombudsman can advocate on behalf of more small businesses by clarifying the office also covers federal contracting regulations.