The little-known liaison

National Ombudsman Michael Barrera helps small businesses

Small businesses and federal agencies. Many small-business owners accept this David versus Goliath battle as part of owning a small business, especially when addressing regulatory enforcement. But the U.S. government and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) took a step to stop unfair, burdensome regulatory enforcement by creating the Office of the National Ombudsman, an office with which many small-business owners are unfamiliar.

The roofing industry, however, has become actively involved with the office. Bruce McCrory, chief operating officer and general manager of NRCA member Kiker Corp., Mobile, Ala., is Region IV Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board Advisor to the National Ombudsman. Click here to read "Bruce McCrory's involvement."

The office's mission is "to foster a more small-business-friendly regulatory enforcement environment." This is done by helping small-business owners address repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation and other unfair enforcement action by federal agencies. The office works to provide compliance information to small businesses and improve federal agencies' attitudes toward them. SBA generally defines small businesses as those that are independently owned and operated with fewer than 500 employees.

Leading the charge to help small businesses is National Ombudsman Michael Barrera. Barrera acts as a neutral liaison between federal agencies and small businesses. Following is how the office was created and how Barrera has responded to Congress's mandate to improve the regulatory enforcement process for small businesses.