House Talks Small Biz InnovationMay 10, 2017
On May 4, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, and the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a joint hearing, “Improving the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs” to discuss ways to improve the two highly-successful small-business innovation programs. Although both programs were reauthorized last year through 2022, it is expected that Congress will pass a bill this year to introduce some minor or incremental improvements to the programs.
Among the witnesses asked to testify on the second panel was Small Business Technology Council–NSBA’s high-tech arm–Board Member Ron Shroder, president and CEO of Frontier Technologies, Inc. Shroder’s testimony focused on improving and better utilizing the Phase III part of SBIR to better help companies transition their successful Phase IIs to marketplace. He stated that because Phase IIIs are so different from Phase I & IIs in nature, many government officials aren’t familiar with or don’t know how to use them. This often requires a company, in order to get a Phase III, a certain amount of educating contracting officials on exactly what they are and how they work.
Schroder went on to state that creating a separate office at each SBIR agency focused on Phase III could help with training and education efforts, and streamlining Phase III contracting could reduce institutional resistance to it. Also, it is vital that reporting requirements are followed and enforced by Congress so that lawmakers have the metrics needed to properly evaluate how successful Phase III contracting is.
Also discussed at the hearing was the recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on waste, fraud, and abuse at the SBIR and STTR programs. The Hearing Co-Chair, Steve Knight (R-CA) pointed out that according to the study, of the 38,000 SBIR/STTR awards that occurred during the length of the study, there were only 14 cases that resulted in guilty verdicts. This means the GAO only found instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in 0.036% of all SBIR/STTR contracts.