GAO: Lack of adequate management hinders SBA loan system

The Small Business Administration’s new Loan Monitoring System faces
implementation problems, according to the General Accounting Office.

SBA faces difficulties because it lacks software project management and will have to
implement the system without having a satisfactory information technology architecture in
place, GAO said.

In its report, Small Business Administration: Planning for Loan Monitoring System Has
Many Positive Features but Still Carries Implementation Challenges, GAO recommended that
SBA get the participation and support of senior program managers and staff, create a
disciplined software development and acquisition process and develop an IT architecture to
support the project’s requirements.

GAO said the agency needs to do three things:

SBA has adopted two quality management approaches to meet GAO’s recommendations,
said Donna Clark, project coordinator for SBA’s Loan Monitoring System.

The agency plans to assess its software development skills using the Capability
Maturity Model from Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. It
also will begin using the management skills recommended by the Project Management
Institute, Clark said.

The Capability Maturity Model will provide a framework for managing software
development projects, and the PMI principles offer guidance on keeping a project on track,
she said.

SBA managers and staff studied both approaches for a week this summer.

“I found these classes useful because they taught you how to make a good project
great,” Clark said.

The Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997 required SBA to provide Congress with a
long-term systems plan. SBA asked for $18 million in its fiscal 1998 budget for systems
support and implementation.

SBA’s Loan Monitoring System, expected to be up and running in 2000, will replace
old applications running on a Unisys 2200 series mainframe.

The Cobol applications run under a proprietary database, which limits the agency.

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