Federal officials responsible for spending $660 billion in taxpayer-backed small-business assistance said Wednesday that they will not disclose amounts or recipients of subsidized loans, backtracking on an earlier commitment to release individual loan data.
The Small Business Administration has previously released detailed loan information dating back to 1991 for the federal 7(a) program, a long-standing small-business loan program on which the larger Paycheck Protection Program is based.
The SBA initially intended to publish similar information for the new coronavirus loans: an SBA spokesman told The Washington Post in an April 16 email that the agency “intend(s) to post individual loan data in accordance with the information presently on the SBA.gov website after the loan process has been completed,” and it made a similar commitment in response to an April 17 open records request.
But the administration appeared to change course at a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza declined to discuss specific borrowers.
“As it relates to the names and amounts of specific PPP loans, we believe that that’s proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information,” Mnuchin said in the hearing. “The reason why we’re not disclosing the names and amounts, unlike in the 7(a) program, is because of that issue.”