Jere Glover, the Executive Director of the Small Business Technology Council, testified before the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee on January 28 at a hearing entitled “Reauthorization of the SBIR/STTR Programs – The Importance of Small Business Innovation to National and Economic Security“.
As SBTC has mentioned in mentioned in previous notices and conference calls, although the SBIR/STTR programs aren’t set to expire until 2017, the SBTC has been pushing to get a reauthorization bill passed a year early, in 2016. To that end we’ve had ongoing meetings with Senate Small Business Committee staff, as well as staff of the House Small Business and Science Committees urging them to take up this issue this year. There seems to be a general consensus on the Hill that it would be better to pass an early reauthorization to preempt the issues that arose during the last reauthorization cycle that led to 12 continuing resolutions over 3 years before SBIR was officially reauthorized.
The other witnesses at the hearing were: John Williams, Director of Innovation at the Small Business Administration; Robert Smith, Director of the Navy SBIR/STTR programs; and Robert Kline-Schoder, President of Creare LLC. Roy Keller, Director of the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office, was also invited to testify and submitted a written testimony, but was unable to attend in person.
In his opening statement, Chairman Vitter (R-LA) mentioned that while other countries think so highly of SBIR that they are copying and program and “putting it on steroids”, the US is still debating its effectiveness, and reauthorizing it only a few years at a time. Both he and Ranking member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) were emphatic that the time has come to make SBIR/STTR permanent, and all the witnesses present supported that sentiment.
During his opening statement, Jere pointed to the continuing decline in private funds for seed-stage deals along with recent studies showing the SBIR program is even more effective than previously thought as evidence that not only do the SBIR/STTR programs work, but they are more important than ever in the high-tech innovation ecosystem. When pressed by Chairman Vitter about what 3 changes to SBIR he would consider most important, Jere stated: (1) Reauthorize SBIR/STTR permanently, (2) increase the set-aside dramatically, and (3) simplify contracting and auditing processes to reverse “requirement creep”. Jere also took the agencies to task for not implementing many of the changes introduced in the last reauthorization, including goals and incentives for Phase III insertion, and reporting requirements. He said Congress should take action the force the agencies to follow the law, and suggested withholding the 3% administrative costs section until they have proven they have done so. He did make an exception for the Navy SBIR office, however, and praised their efforts in coming into compliance with the changes.
To view Jere’s written testimony that has been submitted for the hearing, click on the link below:
An archived video of the hearing is on the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee’s website. Jere participates in the 2nd panel of witnesses, which begins around the 1:33 mark. Click the link below to visit Senate website and view the archived video: