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SBA Administrator Promoted To Cabinet Member Amidst Plan To Radically Restructure Several Federal Agencies

Written by Tim Morral
Published: 1/16/2012

The Obama administration has requested Congressional authority to consolidate multiple government agencies under the auspices of the Small Business Administration chief.

In a move that will likely benefit entrepreneurs and small business owners, President Obama recently announced his intention to restructure and reform executive branch agencies, starting with the immediate elevation of the Small Business Administration (SBA) head to a cabinet-level post.

Small Business Key to Economic Recovery

According to the White House plan, six current agencies -- the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency will be merged into a single, smaller trade department that will be led by SBA administrator, Karen Mills.

"I am calling on Congress to reinstate the authority that past Presidents have had to streamline and reform the Executive Branch," stated President Obama. "I will only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service, and a leaner government," he added.

Obama's decision to promote the SBA to a cabinet agency was greeted with enthusiasm by both the business and legislative communities. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, thinks elevating the SBA Administrator to Cabinet level is the right move. "It is absolutely essential the head of the SBA have a seat at the Cabinet table with the President."

Snow continued, "I've urged this change numerous times in personal conversations with the President, and as I wrote in a December 2008 letter to President-Elect Obama, 'this designation will send a clear signal that small business will drive our nation out of this recession.' "

However, reactions to the proposed consolidation of the SBA with other agencies were mixed, with many wondering whether the new agency will dilute the SBA's ability to advocate for entrepreneurs and small business owners, or whether the new agency structure could be used to deliver advantages to large corporation at the expense of the nation's SMBs.

Still, most legislators and small business advocates seem willing to take a wait-and-see approach until additional details about the restructuring are released. "The details will be critical," said Senator Snowe. "Of particular concern will be ensuring that entrepreneurs do not face new hurdles in obtaining assistance in starting, operating or expanding their small businesses -- whether accessing capital, pursuing exporting opportunities, or contracting with the federal government.

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