On May 4, the House Small Business and Science, Space and Technology Committees held a joint hearing this morning to discuss ways to improve the SBIR and STTR programs. Although SBIR/STTR was reauthorized last year until 2022, it is expected that the 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 SBTC Board Member, and President/CEO of Frontier Technologies, Inc, Ron Shroder. Ron’s testimony focused on improving and better utilizing the Phase III part of the program 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 means that for a company to get a Phase III, often requires an effort to educate a contractor on exactly what they are and how they work.
Ron 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 made stricter by Congress so that Congress has the metrics needed to properly evaluate how successful Phase III contracting is.
Also discussed at the hearing was the recently released 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.