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 History:  On September 19, 1980, Congress enacted the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) mandating federal agencies consider the impact of regulatory proposals on small entities and determine, in good faith, whether there were equally effective alternatives that would make the regulatory burden on small business more equitable.

In March 1996 Congress strengthened the Regulatory Flexibility Act by enacting the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA ), which mandates that:

(1) federal agencies establish a policy or program that reduces and waives civil penalties for violations of a statutory or regulatory requirement by a small entity;  (2) the SBA Administrator designate a Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman to receive, investigate, and report on regulatory compliance and enforcement comments and complaints from small business owners;  and (3) the SBA Administrator appoint and designate SBA Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards to:

  • review regulatory compliance and enforcement comments and complaints made by small business owners, and
  • recommend regulatory improvements to the SBA Administrator and the head of affected agencies;

(4) Federal regulatory compliance rules and guidelines to be written in plain English and readily available to small business owners.

Department of State Policy:  The Department does not condone retaliatory actions against firms based upon their expressing concerns or complaints involving regulatory enforcement or compliance matters.  The Department has the statutory responsibility to follow U.S. law and implementing regulations in a manner that ensures fair and equitable treatment for all, including due process.  In addition, our employees are called upon to be equitable to all; to address the public responsively and politely; to be objective, to base decisions on facts and solid judgment; and to avoid even the “appearance of impropriety.”  If a firm feels it has been unfairly treated, please contact:

National Ombudsman and Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness
Office of the National Ombudsman
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 3rd Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20416
(886) 734-3247

Martina Williams
Senior Procurement Analyst
U.S. Department of State
Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
OSDBU, SA-6, Room L820
Washington, DC  20522
(703) 875-6822

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future