May 24, 2018
Congress Must Intercede After Small Business Administration’s Repeated Embarrassments in Awarding Regulatory Research Contracts
Statement of Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: Bloomberg Government reported today that a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy contract to conduct “Research on the Burden of Regulations” has been canceled. The contract was awarded in August 2017 to Mark and Nicole Crain, a pair of disgraced economists whose prior research for the agency was so thoroughly discredited and so embarrassing to the agency’s reputation that the SBA was forced to publicly walk it back.
The SBA Office of Advocacy has proved that it cannot be trusted to supply credible data and research on regulatory issues. When it comes to regulation, the Crains are synonymous with fake news and phony research – and the Office of Advocacy indisputably knew this when it gave them the contract. Public Citizen is pleased that the contract was canceled, but this only reinforces that the contract never should have been awarded in the first place.
Congress must insist on a public and transparent explanation from the Office of Advocacy as to why the contract was canceled, hold the office accountable for wasting taxpayer dollars by paying the Crains the first half of the contract and limit the office’s authority to conduct research of this nature in the future. Congress also should request that the SBA Inspector General scrutinize both the awarding and cancellation of the contract.
Legislative proposals to expand the Office of Advocacy’s role in the rulemaking process will do nothing to address the current problems at the office and instead will make them even worse.