While browsing the newly launched Business.gov Community, I stumbled on a seemingly simple question posed in the forum by a small business owner: “How do I contact the government?”
With so many agencies, regulatory bodies, and elected officials across federal and state and local government, knowing where to start can be time consuming and frustrating. Just try Googling “how do I contact the government?” and you’ll get an idea of what I am talking about.
There are many reasons why small or microbusiness owners would need to contact the government. Aside from lobbying your congressman on local legislative matters, small business owners often have very specific questions about business operational issues such regulatory compliance and tax laws.
To help better serve small businesses in their quest for answers, below is a breakdown of government points of contact – specifically established to service small business needs.
Contacting the Government about General Small Business Issues
From counseling to training to business development advice, the government offers many ways for small business owners to get direct advice and support on general business matters. The Small Business Administration, for example, operates a Small Business Answer Desk that addresses small business issues and concerns. You can also contact an SBA District Office in your state.
Other resources include SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, and Women- and Minority-Owned Business Centers. Get links to all these resources here.
Alternatively you can reach out to other small business owners and industry experts via the Web by posting a question on one of Business.gov’s Community Message Boards. Business.gov is the U.S. Government’s official website for small businesses and the community is a great way to get a fast response to general business issues.
Contacting the Government about Regulatory Compliance
If you need help about more specific legal or regulatory issues that impact your business, you can contact the federal government and your state government directly.
1) Contacting the Federal Government – The good news for the small business owner is that the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 (SBPRA) requires that each federal agency establishes a point of contact to act as a liaison between the agency and small business concerns. In addition, the SBPRA requires that a list of compliance assistance resources for small businesses be published on the Internet.
Access the list of federal compliance contacts here. More than just a list of contacts, you can also find resources by agency on topics ranging from DOE grant application procedures to I-9 employment eligibility verification from the Department of Homeland Security.
2) Contacting Your State Government – Here is a list of contacts and resources to help you stay compliant with regulations across all 50 states.
Filing a Complaint about Unfair Regulatory Enforcement
Is the government regulating your small business unfairly? Need to file a complaint about repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation or other unfair enforcement action by a federal agency?