Federal Export Programs Lack Proper Oversight

August 19, 2013

An interagency committee charged with coordinating the government's exporting programs has not been following through on some of its responsibilities, leaving the programs with overlapping services and making it difficult to measure success, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), says the Washington Post.

Some fear the shortfalls make it difficult for businesses, especially small ones, to access public resources to help them sell goods and services abroad.

  • The Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, a government body responsible for coordinating and managing the funding for various federal exporting programs, has not been compiling information policymakers need to determine whether the programs are working, according to a review by the GAO.
  • In addition, the report notes that the committee has failed to identify what resources each agency needs to operate its exporting programs and has struggled to pinpoint overlaps and redundant services offered by different departments.

The committee, composed of officials from 20 agencies and chaired by the secretary of commerce, acknowledged many of the concerns raised by the GAO and said it will work with government leaders to improve its operations.

  • This is not the first time the GAO has identified challenges for small firms trying to access government exporting resources.
  • In January, the office released a report suggesting the Small Business Administration was not collaborating enough with other agencies on its export promotion activities and repeating services offered by other programs.

In May, House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) introduced a bill that would start to address some of the complexity in the system for small businesses and elevate congressional oversight of the government's exporting initiatives.

In addition, Graves said, the legislation would require federal and state officials to work together to ensure that programs and services were not being duplicated.

Source: J.D. Harrison, "Federal Export Programs Lack Proper Oversight, GAO Says," Washington Post, August 14, 2013.

 

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