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Small Businesses Give FERC High Marks

FERC received high marks for the way it responded to the needs of small businesses in fiscal year 2005, according to an annual report submitted to Congress by the Small Business Administration's Office of National Ombudsman (ONO).

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) got A's in all the categories for which federal agencies were rated -- timeliness of responses, quality of responses, nonretaliation policy, compliance assistance, participation in regulatory enforcement fairness hearings, notified small business of violations and right to comment, and submitted Paperwork Relief Act report.

Most federal agencies improved their timeliness in addressing small business comments in fiscal 2005, although several still have long-standing records of delays in responding to companies that filed comments, the ONO told Congress.

It estimated that FERC responded to the comments of small businesses within 26 days on average. The Treasury Department had the worst response time (336 days), and among the poor responders was followed by Housing and Urban Development (157 days) and the Justice Department (118 days). The Federal Trade Commission had the best response time of the rated agencies (14 days).

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 authorized the creation of the ONO and 10 regional regulatory enforcement fairness boards to help small businesses hold federal regulators accountable for unfair enforcement actions. Comments, concerns and complaints are gathered at regulatory fairness hearings held throughout the country each year and are then filed with the ONO, which then reports to Congress.

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