SBA shuts SVOG portal before taking a single application, Inspector General warns more problems ahead
The US Small Business Administration was forced to pull down its portal Thursday before a single application was received for $16.3 billion in desperately need Shuttered Venue Operating Grants (SVOG).
After a Noon ET launch, technical problems with the platform designed by Salesforce along with inconsistencies in SBA provided instructions forced the government agency to suspend the non-functioning portal late the same afternoon.
“Due to technical difficulties, SBA has temporarily suspended the SVOG application portal. SBA is working closely with the portal vendors to reopen as soon as possible. SBA will share advance notice of the time and date before the reopening so all applicants can be prepared and to ensure equitable access. Applicants may continue to register for a new account.
SBA will continue to update you as this process resolves.”
The SVOG program is aimed at “operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theatres, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives” to apply for grants after being shut down over a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SBA unprepared to handle SVOG warns Office Of Inspector General
Even before the portal opened yesterday, US government watchdog the Office Of Inspector General issued a statement critical of the SBA’s planning and questioning the agency’s current ability to handle the massive grant program.
“OIG believes that SBA does not have the staff necessary to provide effective oversight over the SVOG program,” the report said. “At this time, SBA has not formalized a plan for staffing this office relative to the volume of applications expected. The agency has also not defined the organizational structure for administering the program.”
Live Music Industry Reacts
Representatives of several liv music trade organizations refused to comment for this story, but privately admitted their frustration and the additional stress delays put on their members.
On social media, however, the reactions were less guarded.