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Context Counts: Facts About DSLBD's Small Business Support

Monday, June 18, 2012

Context Counts: Facts About DSLBD's Small Business Support

Re: DC Small Biz Agency Misses Small Biz Spending Goal from June 14

Washington, DC—In a June 14th article (http://bit.ly/LAADLN), the Washington Examiner cites a report from the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA) stating that the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) failed to meet its Certified Small Business Enterprise (CSBE) expenditure target in FY2011. DSLBD takes seriously its responsibility to serve the District's small and local businesses. Our vision is a District business environment in which: businesses are connected in real-time with local, federal, and global business opportunities; businesses navigate government quickly and effectively; and, every great idea with a great plan has the capital it needs to grow. As a result, we're obligated to provide additional perspective to our stakeholders and correct some quantitative errors in the article.

Due to a FY2011 spending freeze, DSLBD didn’t spend as much in our expendable budget as we forecasted, but over 70% of what we did spend went to CSBEs. As the article notes, there was a citywide spending freeze during fiscal year 2011. Consequently, we spent less than forecast. Specifically, we spent approximately $134,000 in our expendable budget, of which more than $100,000 went to CSBEs. This equates to more than 70% of our expendable budget expenditures, and resulted in a determination that we made a good faith effort to meet our CSBE target. Our stakeholders deserve to know that when DSLBD spends public money, we walk the talk about supporting small business.

The article also alludes to, but does not describe, improvements we're making to the CSBE compliance program. Despite Council action which moved all of DSLBD’s compliance employees to the Auditor’s office, in the last year DSLBD has: rolled out a comprehensive, online compliance reporting system, making it easier for agencies to submit CSBE targets and quarterly report, and equipping Agency heads with tools they need to increase their compliance with CSBE expenditure goals; established a standard to monitor District agencies with independent budget authority, providing stakeholders with a fuller picture of the District’s compliance posture; and, provided definitive guidance to Agency heads related to the reporting of gross operating funds, providing additional accuracy to stakeholders interested in CSBE expenditure data.

DSLBD is committed to improving the CSBE compliance process and will announce more improvements in the coming months. Consistent with our vision of connecting DC businesses in real-time with business opportunities, in the last year DSLBD created HUBDC, a national pilot partnership with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to get more DC business access to the HUBZone program’s preferential procurement opportunities and launched ExportDC, the District’s first major export readiness and development program to connect DC businesses to global opportunities. More can and will be done, but it is critical that our stakeholders know that we are walking the talk when it comes to supporting DC’s small businesses.

As DSLBD and our partners have said before in response to the Examiner, to make the District the world-class business environment that residents deserve, hard work and hard conversations remain. Each requires thoughtful analysis, and a full accounting of the facts.

About the District of Columbia Department of Small and Local Business Development

The District of Columbia Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) fosters the economic growth, development, and retention of District of Columbia based businesses, and promotes economic development throughout the District’s commercial corridors. For more information on all of DSLBD’s services, go to http://dslbd.dc.gov, contact us at dslbd@dc.gov, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/smallbizdc, or follow us on Twitter at @SmallBizDC.

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