Steven Preston, a former corporate executive, was unanimously approved by a Senate committee on Thursday as the next administrator of the Small Business Administration.
A full Senate vote on his nomination is expected later this summer.
The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship voted 18-0 to approve Preston's nomination following a brief confirmation hearing on June 21.
"If confirmed, Mr. Preston must do everything he possibly can to prevent another bureaucratic fiasco that defined the agency's response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes," Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the committee chairwoman, said in a statement.
Snowe said she urged the nominee to revamp the agency's ailing disaster response plan, which includes greater access to front-line employees working in disaster zones and the flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances.
Snowe added that she expects Preston to "provide strong and unwavering leadership at this pivotal juncture."
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the committee's ranking member, also underscored the need for reform. "We're down to our last at bat with this administration," he said. "Steve Preston has the opportunity to turn things around at the SBA to help small businesses win."
During his confirmation hearing, Preston called disaster response "job number one," saying he plans to foster stronger partnerships between private-sector lenders, as well closer ties with members of Congress.
When pressed on how he would accomplish this given the SBA's shrinking budget in recent years, Preston replied only that he would have to look at the figures.
Preston served most recently as an executive at The ServiceMaster, a $3 billion publicly-traded lawn-care company with more than 5,000 franchise location.
He is slated to replace outgoing SBA administrator Hector Barreto, who resigned in April.