Congress OK’s NDAA, SBIR ReauthDecember 14, 2016
On Thursday, Dec. 8, the Senate approved 92-7 the conference report for the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 4909/S. 2943), following the House’s similarly broad approval the week prior. The bill now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature who has expressed opposition to certain provisions of the bill in the past, yet the large margins by which it passed now make the conference report veto-proof.
The NDAA sets policy and spending priorities for the Department of Defense (DoD), and is also commonly the vehicle for including changes to the government contracting/procurement process. Included in the final language for the NDAA are several major wins for NSBA and its high-tech arm, the Small Business Technology council (SBTC). First, the language reauthorizes for five years the highly-successful Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs within the DoD. Although the SBIR program isn’t set to expire until 2017, NSBA and SBTC worked with leaders in the House and Senate Small Business Committees to include reauthorizing language in the NDAA to avoid issues that arose during the previous reauthorization cycle that led to 12 continuing resolutions over three years before SBIR was officially reauthorized.
There are several other positive provisions in the NDAA, including requirements to use plain language in small-business procurements; a pilot program to enable certain small-business subcontractors to receive a past performance rating; and changes to the Mentor-Protégé program to ensure both entities are truly separate.
Another major win for small business is the absence of some very concerning provisions that were included the Senate’s version of the bill, namely, language that would enable DoD to count small-business subcontracts toward the agency’s overall small-business prime contracting goals. The specific language was only included in the final version of the bill that passed the Senate and would have decimated small-business procurement at DoD. That language was stripped from the conference report.
Still included, however, is a requirement that DoD examine small-business procurement, specifically whether or not a transition period for small contracting firms should be enacted in order to allow for more growth for these firms.
NSBA applauds the Members and staff of the House and Senate Armed Services and Small Business Committees for their efforts in including reauthorizing language for the SBIR/STTR programs, and ensuring that sound, pro-small-business contracting policies continue at the DoD.