Facing over $4.6 billion in potentially fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and continuing challenges with IT investments, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has yet to meet its goal to revise the agency’s Certify system by the end of 2021, according to SBA Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware.

Speaking at a House Small Business Committee hearing today, Ware noted that while SBA has taken steps to improve oversight of beta.Certify.gov, it is still not working as the agency intended.

The SBA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its report on management and performance challenges for fiscal year (FY) 2022 in October, highlighting “significant” challenges in IT investment. Among those IT investments listed is the Certify system, which aims to boost small business access to SBA contracting and assistance programs.

“My understanding is it still isn’t working as promised,” Ware said. “Beta Certify was supposed to be what delivered the Women-Owned Small Business capability and that application is still in the program sustainment and production mode, in other words.”

SBA previously said it expected to complete efforts to improve beta.Certify.gov by the end of 2021, with OIG monitoring the progress. However, SBA has yet to do so and still needs to improve several management areas, including baseline reviews and completing functionality – as outlined in the OIG’s report.

“From the information that I have before me currently, the system is basically where it is when we last spoke,” Ware told the committee. “But we are looking into it… we’re just at the beginning of 2022.”

Initially, SBA launched the new IT system as Certify.sba.gov, a 5-year, $30 million system, but it proved “so unsuccessful that the agency had to replace it” with the beta version, according to the OIG’s report.

As the beta version is still not living up to SBA’s promise and committee scrutiny grows surrounding fraudulent payments, Ware said the agency told him “they hope to make a directional decision in the next two months” regarding the Certify program.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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