Few organizations are easier to attack than federal agencies. They're bloated and slow, or starved and ineffective. They're rife with corruption and staffed by weary workers who'd rather be someplace--anyplace--else. To insiders, they're fodder for contention and posturing; to outsiders they're Washington at its impenetrable worst. Or so some would have it.
Principal among these targets is the Small Business Administration. Kicked from the cabinet by President Bush, the SBA has been bleeding prestige, money, and staff. It's never been one of the glamour agencies. Its most energetic critics, in fact, say the time has come for the SBA to close its doors and fade quietly into the night.
We at Inc. decided to take a good look into the inner workings of the SBA so that we could come to our own conclusions. Writer Robb Mandelbaum went into the field, choosing the Richmond, Virginia, SBA office as his focus. After months (and months) of reporting there and in Washington, D.C., Robb delivered his article into the hands of his editor, Loren Feldman. The two of them have crafted a fine and balanced piece of journalism that explores the basic question, does the SBA still matter?
Whatever your biases toward the SBA, I hope you'll take the time to read Robb's piece. I think it's the best magazine article ever written on the subject.
It's also Loren's swan song as Inc.'s deputy editor. By the time this magazine is in your hands, Loren will have assumed a new position as editor of Inc.com and FastCompany.com here at Mansueto Ventures. Loren has been a force for good at this magazine, an intelligent, calm editor--a real professional. We will miss him a lot.