By KEVIN DERBY Sunshine State News
As the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is weighing in as the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) takes aim at Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a non-profit which has helped small businesses for 55 years.
The SBA’s Office of Inspector General released an audit report on SCORE in which it “uncovered systemic issues within the SCORE Association and the SBA’s oversight of the SCORE program, including an extensive misuse of federal funds for unallowable and unreasonable expenses without SBA detection.”
Rubio weighed in on the report on Monday.
“The results of this audit are both shocking and troubling. It is completely unacceptable that the SBA failed to identify SCORE’s misuse of federal grants money for excessive staff bonuses, unallowable contracts, and prohibited costs such as alcohol,” Rubio said. “This program is intended to support America’s entrepreneurs who are working tirelessly to start businesses, create jobs, and better their communities. As the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship continues to work toward reauthorizing the Small Business Act, I can assure you that this kind of abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars will not go unchecked.”
Rubio is chairing a Small Business Committee hearing on “Reauthorization of the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs” on Wednesday and he offered a preview of it.
“I look forward to Wednesday’s committee hearing, which will focus on the reauthorization of the SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs, in addition to diving further into this audit report,” Rubio said. “We will have the opportunity to question the SBA Associate Administrator for Entrepreneurial Development, the SBA Inspector General, and the CEO of the SCORE Association. This hearing will also examine recent OIG embezzlement and whistleblower retaliation investigations surrounding the SCORE program. It is vital that the committee ensures that this program is meeting its intended purpose and serving America’s small businesses.”
Allen Gutierrez, the SBA’s Associate Administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development; Hannibal “Mike” Ware, the SBA’s inspector general; Michael Myhre, the CEO of the Florida SBDC Network; Kiesha Haughton, the managing director of the Maryland Women’s Business Center;W. Kenneth Yancey Jr., the CEO of the SCORE Association; and Darcella Craven, the president of the Veterans Business Resource Center will be before the committee on Wednesday.