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September 26, 2000

H.R. 4946 - National Small Business Regulatory Assistance Act of 2000
(Rep. Sweeney (R) NY and 5 cosponsors)

The Administration has concerns with H.R. 4946, which would establish a pilot regulatory assistance program for small businesses that would require at least 20 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to divert resources from their core mission of providing development assistance to owners of small businesses.

The Administration strongly supports efforts to assist all citizens, including small businesses, in complying with Federal regulations. Federal agencies are therefore already providing the assistance envisioned by H.R. 4946, both on their own initiative and pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, and other laws. Requiring SBDCs to provide competent assistance on the entire range of Federal regulatory issues would not only unnecessarily duplicate these ongoing efforts, but also would impose substantial training and personnel expenditures on the participating SBDCs and give rise to unnecessary litigation over whether a small business' noncompliance was due to reliance on erroneous advice provided by an SBDC.

Finally, proposed section 34(c)(2)(D) of H.R. 4946 would prohibit the SBA Administrator from disclosing the name or address of any small business concern that receives assistance under the pilot program, except where ordered to do so by a court in a civil or criminal action. This broad provision would conflict with 18 U.S.C. 4, which makes it a crime to conceal knowledge of the actual commission of a Federal felony. It may also be inconsistent with protections afforded to whistle-blowers.