Office of Small Business Advocate
300 North Second Street - Suite 1102
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 783-2831 (fax)
The Office of Small Business Advocate (“OSBA”) is a state agency which represents the interests of Pennsylvania small business utility consumers before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), federal regulatory agencies, and state and federal courts. The OSBA was created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1988 and is administratively located within the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). However, the Small Business Advocate Act states that the Secretary of DCED is not in any way responsible for the policies, procedures, or other substantive matters developed by the OSBA to carry out its duties under the Act.
The OSBA is granted broad discretion concerning whether or not to participate in particular proceedings before the PUC. In exercising that discretion, the OSBA is required to consider the public interest, the resources available, and the substantiality of the effect of the particular proceeding on the interests of small business consumers.
In addition to the OSBA’s duties regarding utility matters, as part of the 1993 reforms to Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act, Article XIII of the revised statute, Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. §§1041.1, et seq., authorizes the OSBA to represent the interest of employers in proceedings before the Insurance Department involving the premiums charged for workers’ compensation insurance policies sold in Pennsylvania. Consequently, the OSBA reviews the “loss cost” filings made each year by the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau and the Coal Mine Compensation Rating Bureau of Pennsylvania and submits comments and recommendations to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The OSBA has no involvement in compensation or coverage disputes.
The OSBA’s budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 is $1,251,000. That budget is funded by assessments on utility companies and on workers’ compensation insurers, in proportion to the OSBA’s expenses in relation to each group. At the present time, utility company assessments account for about 85% of the budget and insurance company assessments for about 15%. None of the OSBA’s budget is financed by General Fund tax revenue.