Bipartisan Group Criticizes Transparency In Paycheck Protection Program Data

Jul 13, 2020

Boulanger's Barberie in South Bend reopened - with social distancing guidance - under Gov. Eric Holcomb's "Back On Track" plan.
Credit Justin Hicks / IPB News

The Small Business Administration released national data on who received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through June. But the lack of detailed information included for smaller loans limits the ability to hold those businesses and organizations accountable. 

More than 75,000 Hoosier businesses and organizations secured federal PPP loans through the first two rounds of funding.

While the names for those that received loans for more than $150,000 were reported, names of those less than that amount were not disclosed, which accounted for 85 percent of the loans in Indiana.

Many of the loans also left sections blank including the business owner’s demographics of race and ethnicity, male or female, and if they were a veteran. 

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) said while it’s important to understand where the money went, he has mixed feelings about the transparency of who received a PPP loan.

“We had a number of, immediately upon releasing the list of recipients, you had especially in the charged environment of social media, you had a lot of businesses that were targeted for receiving the PPP loans,” he said.

During the Bipartisan Policy Center discussion, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) said he believes in complete transparency and that businesses should not be concerned if they used the money appropriately.

One of the requirements for loan forgiveness is that businesses disclose how many jobs were saved with the money.

But some businesses listed zero jobs saved or didn’t disclose that information at all.

Banks said he’s heard from many businesses in northwest Indiana about how the money helped. But he said Congress must now hold PPP loan recipients accountable.

“And part of our oversight role in Congress is to make sure that the PPP program works well, that the dollars are going to the right business, that these dollars are not being abused,” said Banks. “And I think that that’s a larger conversation that we’re having.”

President Donald Trump recently signed a bill to extend the PPP program which still has more than $100 billion left.

Congress is also discussing creating a new program to help small businesses that were financially hurt due to COVID-19.

Public media organizations, including some Indiana Public Broadcasting stations, also received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.