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PPP taps cloud for loan forgiveness

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is using a commercial cloud service for its Paycheck Protection Program loan-forgiveness processing, but lawmakers are concerned about tech glitches.

The PPP program, according to SBA, distributed over $525 billion, approving over five million loans through lenders. The loan-forgiveness program forgives emergency loans SBA made to businesses that retained their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The agency began accepting loan-forgiveness applications on Aug. 10.

The system that handles PPP loan forgiveness applications is not the agency's E-Trans system, he said, but a specialized commercial, off-the-shelf platform already used by commercial lenders. The agency contracted for a turnkey software-as-a-service package, William Manger, SBA administrative chief of staff, said at a Sept. 24 House Small Business Innovation and Workforce Development subcommittee hearing.

The SaaS application, according to contracting documents, is based on Amazon Web Services cloud and is required to support up to five million loan applications and associated documentation and host up to 25,000 concurrent users.

Despite the massive capacity, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) said she had been hearing from lenders that they were having issues with the forgiveness applications on the SBA system.

Lenders, she said, are "struggling right now because they're trying to get things through the pipeline in forgiveness but are receiving a lot of error messages that a lot of the data is wrong, that they're ending up with a very, very small percent of what they submit being accepted the first time around."

In response, Manger told Houlahan that SBA had worked closely with the contractors to modify the platform for the forgiveness program. He said since it was a cloud platform, capacity was not an issue.

Manger said the problems sounded like data input issues and told Houlahan he would consult with the contractor on the issue.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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