Objecting to a questionnaire that it regards as invasive, the Associated General Contractors of America is filing a suit centering on a survey sent to companies receiving loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.
The AGC, the largest general contractors’ industry group in the country, is suing both the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as the federal Office of Management and Budget, asking for a change in the questionnaire’s wording.
That questionnaire is designed to help the SBA and budget office determine whether applicants are eligible to have their Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven.
“The administration has every right, and obligation, to ensure businesses were eligible to apply for and receive the federal loans,” AGC chief executive officer Stephen Sandherr said in a statement regarding the lawsuit.
“But they do not,” continued Sandherr, “have the right to use a secretly crafted form to gather unprecedented amounts of proprietary information that has little or nothing to do with the economic uncertainty that led businesses to apply for the loans in the first place.”
The SBA had earlier announced that all businesses receiving loans of more than $2 million were required to fill out what is called a “loan necessity questionnaire,” detailing their financial status and operations since the Covid-19 onset.
That questionnaire, which has proven both controversial and unpopular throughout the building industry, asks for information from companies for everything from their dividend payments to gross revenues and any capital improvement projects.
The AGC particularly argues that the program, as established under this year’s big Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, originally asked only for a “good faith certification” on the part of companies applying for loans attesting to their uncertain economic status.
That formulation changed, charges the AGC, with the loan forgiveness questionnaire, which the group contends violates Congressional intent and retroactively changes the criteria for the loan.
The AGC suit has been filed in the United State District Court for the District of Columbia.
By Garry Boulard
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