This bill would reauthorize the SCORE program for fiscal years 2020, 2021, and 2022 and implement safeguards that incorporate recommendations made by a 2019 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) program is a non-profit subsidiary of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that provides free or low-cost counseling, mentoring, and workshops for small business owners and entrepreneurs related to the operation of their businesses. These counseling services can include developing a business plan, or providing marketing and finance advice.
Based on business experience and knowledge, SCORE volunteers would:
- Provide personal counseling, mentoring, and coaching relating to the experience of starting, expanding, managing, buying, and selling a business to current or aspiring small business owners;
- Facilitate low-cost education workshops for individuals who own, or aspire to own, small business concerns.
The SBA Administrator would be authorized to make grants or enter into cooperative agreements totalling less than $11.7 million to help achieve the goals that each chapter of the SCORE program establishes for itself.
The SBA would ensure that the program and each of its chapters develop and implement plans and goals to provide services more effectively and efficiently to individuals in rural areas, economically disadvantaged communities, and other traditionally underserved communities. This would include plans for electronic initiatives, web-based initiatives, chapter expansion, partnerships, and the development of new skills by participating volunteers.
The SCORE Association would:
- Make use of online counseling, including by webinars and an electronic mentoring platform;
- Study the future role of the program;
- Develop a strategic plan for how the program will evolve to meet the needs of small business concerns over the next five years.
Within 180 days after this bill’s enactment, and annually thereafter, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and the House Small Business Committee would receive a report on the SCORE program’s performance and effectiveness. Among other topics, the report would discuss:
- Metrics (such as the number of individuals counseled or trained and number of hours of counseling provided) illustrating the program’s impact;
- Demographics (including gender, race, and age) of SCORE program participants and volunteers;
- The cost to create a job, the cost to create a business, and return on investment;
- The results of SCORE program participant satisfaction surveys, including a summary of any comments received from such participants; and
- The number of new businesses started up and jobs created by SCORE program participants.
The SBA Administrator and the SCORE Association would be prohibited from disclosing the contact information of a person or business participating in the program without their consent.