U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, urged Jovita Carranza, the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), to provide information on the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) preparedness to respond to potential natural disasters that could arise in the upcoming months in advance of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season beginning on June 1.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Administrator Carranza:
June 1st marks the beginning of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Some recent projections forecast an active season, with the potential for at least six named hurricanes. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) and its loan programs serve as an important lifeline for individuals and small businesses impacted both physically and economically as the result of natural disasters. While SBA ODA resources are currently being directed to assist small businesses that have suffered economic injury due to COVID-19, it is imperative that this work not detract from the Agency’s preparedness to respond to potential natural disasters that could arise in the upcoming months.
For this reason, I would request you provide me with answers to the following questions:
What measures has the agency taken to ensure that ODA will be properly prepared to meet the demands of the COVID-19 related loans in tandem with those related to future disasters?
What are the current staffing levels, including permanent, reservists, and outside agency staff, for ODA to process and disperse disaster loans?
Are certain staff assigned to physical disaster assistance vs. economic injury assistance? If so, how many and to which loan programs?
Has the agency implemented any recommendations from recent Office of Inspector General and/or Government Accountability Office reports related to natural disasters to improve the disaster loan program? If so, which ones?
Thank you for your ongoing efforts to help small business owners affected by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic through the expanded Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The federal government has a significant role in preparedness, response, and recovery from natural disasters for all Americans impacted, no matter the origins. We must ensure that all proper resources will be available and dispersed to the citizens of our nation in a timely manner.
Thank you for your attention on these crucial matters and I look forward to your response.