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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12, 2019: SBA - SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION sign emblem seal at headquarters building entrance.

Since the inception of the Payroll Protection Program to provide struggling businesses with loans under the CARES Act, the public and the media have been clamoring for information on who has received the loans. Controversies over a few acknowledged recipients, including Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers, highlighted the lack of information about others. And in May, five prominent media outlets sued the Small Business Administration under the Freedom of Information Act for access to information about PPP loan recipients.

Perhaps bowing to intense public pressure and complaints from Congress, on July 6 the U.S. Treasury and the SBA released the identity of all recipients who received loans over $150,000. For each borrower, SBA data includes the business name and address, business type and structure (corporation, nonprofit, etc.), self-reported demographic data, number of jobs supported by the business, and the lender.

While the effort to foster transparency is laudable, the decision to limit disclosure to borrowers receiving loans over $150,000 leaves a large amount of information undisclosed. While the Treasury noted that its disclosure covers nearly 75% of the total funds loaned under the program, it neglected to point out that it reveals only about 25% of the borrowers. The public will remain in the dark as to three-quarters of the entities who received PPP loans.

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