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.