Why The PPP and EIDL Data Got Dumped
The SBA’s time has run out: on Tuesday night, the organization released the loan data for all Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) recipients. The name, address, and how much each recipient received was posted in a series of excel spreadsheets in compliance with a D.C. District Court order, decided November 24.
The results do not inspire confidence. Despite knowing this data would be scrutinized by the public, records show that nearly $10 million went to businesses for which the business name field was not entered correctly. Some of these were blank while others contained phone numbers or random dates.
Is it fraud? Maybe, maybe not. It certainly suggests, however, that the official books on $525 billion in individual PPP loans aren’t exactly up to snuff.
The legal struggle to release the data began with filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in May by a coalition of news companies, including the New York Times, representatives for the Wall Street Journal, ProPublica, and 11 other newsrooms. They hoped to uncover where billions of CARES Act loans went but received privacy concern pushback from the SBA.
In June, the SBA released limited info on the top bracket of loans, from $150,000 upward. United States District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that there was no reason not to release the information after the SBA refused to open the files up on the bottom 4 million loans at the beginning of November. The SBA pushed for a stay of the order, which was shot down by Boasberg, and finally, the SBA released the data.
As of early November, the agency had processed and approved more than 5.2 million individual PPP loans, along with an additional $192 billion in EIDL loans. PPP funds had the unique distinction of being forgivable so long as they were used for expenses like payroll.
A PPP & EIDL search tool is available on the Small Business Forum where anyone can query the released data.Last modified: December 3, 2020