In a finding that could apply to other federal agencies going through change, as well, the General Accounting Office has said that the Small Business Administration needs to emphasize transparency and communication in its effort to transform itself from the inside out.

It said SBA should ensure that all employees are aware of the transformation process and acting in concert, by identifying managers directly responsible for implementing the process and finalizing and distributing its transformation plan, complete with performance goals. It also said the agency should solicit and incorporate employee input from all levels into the transformation process, including from the union.

SBA drafted a plan and created an implementation team to manage the transformation, but its progress thus far could be impeded by budget and staffing changes, said GAO. For example, several district office programs, some designed to test marketing and outreach techniques, others to centralize the loan processes, and other initiatives might suffer because SBA did not get transformation funding in fiscal year 2003 and may not in 2004.

SBA has made matters worse by not sharing its plan with Congress and providing clear and consistent budget requests, as well as detailing priorities and linking resources to results, said GAO.

SBA said it would consider GAO’s findings, but disagreed with recommendations regarding budget requests and employee communication and involvement. Get Report