The remarks follow last month’s release of two reports alleging that the little-known Office of Advocacy has worked to water down or block regulations at the behest of industry groups.
The office, created in 1976, is charged with making sure federal agencies take small business into consideration when adopting new rules. But the reports issued by the Center for Effective Government and the Center for Progressive Reform suggest that the office has evolved into a tool for corporations to block regulations.
They contend the office uses overly broad standards to define what counts as a small business, and hosts regular roundtable meetings with representatives of trade groups and lobbyists who represent the interests of big and small businesses alike.
The resulting comments issued by the office to influence proposed rules often reflect the wishes of industry, not just small business, according to the reports.
Sargeant maintained that the office is focused on aiding small businesses that do not have the means to monitor the stream of proposed rules and regulations issued by federal agencies. Last week the office issued its own report, saying its work last year alone saved start-ups $2.4 billion in regulatory costs.
“We believe that when small businesses have the opportunity to participate in the rule-making process and agencies take those concerns into account, it makes the rule or regulation more effective and longer lasting,” he said.