The Department of Defense is preparing to split its Office of Acquisition, Technology, & Logistics (AT&L) into two offices: the office of Research and Engineering (R&E), and the office of Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S), as is required by the 2017 NDAA. They recently submitted a report to Congress proposing a new organizational structure to implement that split:
According to the report, the plan would move SBIR/STTR and RIF will be to the office of R&E, and OSBP will be moving to the office of A&S. It is unclear under this plan whether OSBP would still have any oversight of the SBIR/STTR or RIF programs, and if not, whether there would be any unifying agency or office to ensure each agency is acting in accordance with the law.
This also could potentially have negative repercussions for commercialization and insertion of SBIR/STTR technology. While Phase I and Phase II fit more into the R&E office, Phase III, RIF, and other follow-on funding for SBIR/STTR technology might fit better in the A&S office. Without support from A&S, there is concern a lot more promising SBIR/STTR technology could end up dying on the vine. It is unclear how the two offices would coordinate with each other with regards to small business interests and technology.
Finally, SBTC is disappointed at the lack of inclusion of Small business interests in general in this DOD restructuring plan. In the entire 30 page report, SBIR/STTR is mentioned once, and small business in general is only mentioned twice. Considering the critical role small business plays in America’s innovation economy, and the multitude of success stories produced by high tech small businesses, it is surprising that the role of small business is practically ignored by this report.
We will update this article as more information and details become available.