How the The Office of the National Ombudsman can bridge the gap between small business and government

Alliance News, Guest Blog |

Written by: Melissa Florio, President, Ambix Manufacturing & Region One board member of the SBA Ombudsmen Regulatory Fairness Board

The Office of the National Ombudsman (ONO). Heard of it? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t as many people, myself included, have not. But I wish I had known of them and their support services when my company, Ambix Manufacturing, went through an OSHA audit over a decade ago that resulted in a heavy burden of fines. If we knew of ONO, we could have had someone by our side navigating the process of fine reduction and remedies.

So who or what is ONO? ONO, established in 1996 by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, assists small business when they experience excessive or unfair federal regulatory enforcement actions, such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation, or other unfair enforcement action by a Federal agency. ONO is unique because:

They are an external facing office with jurisdiction over any federal regulatory issues affecting a small business.

They foster accessibility to the Federal Government by being responsive to the needs and concerns of small businesses.

They provide a bridge between small business owners and the Government when they are otherwise ignored or have limited options.

And they act as a conduit of change – alerting Congress and Federal Agencies to repetitive issues and concerns that need to be addressed and resolved.

Essentially, they are an independent voice for small businesses including entrepreneurs, associations, non-profits and small government entities. So how do you make your voice heard?

ONO has established Regional Regulatory Fairness Boards across the United States that can connect you with resources, provide advice and policy recommendations and elevate your voice. I sit on the Region One Board and am here to be that connection when you need it. You can also file a comment or complaint directly to the Small Business Administration’s Office of the National Ombudsman via its website: sba.gov/ombudsman/comments. Or contact the Regulatory Fairness Helpline at 1.888.REG.FAIR (734.3247).

Another way to participate in Government regulatory actions that are affecting your business is to attend a Regional Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Roundtable or public hearing hosted by the SBA’s National Ombudsman. These venues allow you a unique opportunity to amplify your concerns about the challenges you and your business are facing.

We are hosting one such roundtable on Wednesday, March 6 in Boston, MA with attendance offered either virtually or in-person. Registration for this event is open until March 4. Register via Eventbrite with the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/regulatory-enforcement-fairness-roundtable-boston-ma-in-person-tickets-835893950307.

If you can’t attend or would like to assist others in elevating their voice, your organization can team with a Fairness Regulatory Board Member, such as myself, and host a roundtable in your area. My contact information is melissa.florio@ambixmfg.com or you can message me at my Linkedin account at www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-florio-7a250525.