I had the opportunity to learn about the Office of Advocacy recently and wanted to share my experience. The Office of Advocacy is part of the Small Business Administration, a federal agency. From their website: https://www.sba.gov/advocacy

Advocacy is an independent voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the source of small business statistics. Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, the federal agencies, the federal courts and state policy makers.

What this means is that on a daily basis the federal government changes regulations, before those regulations are changed there is a time when the government asks for input. Unfortunately, most small businesses are not aware of changing regulations and their impact.

Let me give you an example:

What if there is a change to manufacturing regulations that if you are a jewelry manufacturer, a federal regulation requires lead testing. This means that if you sell jewelry on a site such as Etsy that you would have to get your necklaces, rings and bracelets to a lab.

The Office of the Advocacy would reach out to small business and ask for the law’s impact. But, what if it is too late, and you, a small time jewelry maker get a fine from the federal government?

In this case, with fines, then within the Office of the Advocacy is an Ombudsman office. The ombudsman, although an employee of the federal government is an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration. The ombudsman can intervene in regards to the fine that is issues.

This is a little known office with a big impact! I suggest signing up for their email newsletter to stay informed. If you have time http://www.regulations.gov lists all of the changes in regulations- you can see if there will be an impact to your business

Cynthia Pasciuto is an attorney, consultant, mediator and educator in Massachusetts who has taught at Bentley University, NIWH and NESA.