Last month we shared with you that SBIR/STTR firms who do business with the Department of Energy received notice that the DOE SBIR/STTR office was suspending awards indefinitely until the new Secretary of Energy could review all the projects and topics. In response, the Ranking Members of the Senate Small Business Committee and Energy Committee sent a letter to the Secretary of Energy requesting more information regarding DOE’s decision to indefinitely delay SBIR/STTR solicitations. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) raised concerns in their letter about the uncertainty and financial burden faced by high-tech small businesses as a result of this delay. Additionally, the Senators point out that the 2011 SBIR/STTR reauthorization law requires agencies to review SBIR/STTR applications within 90 days, with a possibility of a 90 day extension if granted by the Small Business Administration.
The letter reminds the DOE that Congress has already appropriated the funds to be spent, and requests that the agency provide clear notice to when these awards will be started again, as well as the rationale for delaying them in the first place. After receiving the letter, the DOE has since agreed to release all of the delayed SBIR/STTR grants this month, totalling over $200 million.
In response, Senator Shaheen said: “This is good news for small businesses developing innovative energy technologies, and I appreciate Secretary Perry and Administrator McMahon heeding our call to move forward with the release of these critical R&D grants to small businesses that have been subject to unnecessary delays.”
The SBTC applauds Senator Shaheen and Senator Cantwell’s swift response to DOE’s actions to delay awards, and we are grateful as always to both Senators for their continued commitment to promoting and defending the interests of small business in America.