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SBIR Program Diversity and Assessment Challenges: Report of a Symposium
whether it was more expensive or difficult for agencies to administer than other R&D programs.
Robert Berger said that SBIR proposals were less efficient to review, per dollar of research funded, because of the large number of proposals received and the tightness of deadlines. While DoE had reduced the number of proposals by narrowing its topics, the proposal-to-award ratio was still considerably higher for SBIR than for other programs. Also, the performers were different, requiring more outreach than grantees at universities, for example, where the process of grant application is better understood. Finally, the agency’s peer review system was labor-intensive; DoE had to convey information packages to at least three reviewers for every proposal and retrieve then on time, or find substitute reviewers.
Jim Turner concluded the discussion by noting that the initial SBIR legislation benefited from the combined perspectives of the House Science Committee, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and other partners in Congress. He emphasized that having representation from both small and large states and from both major parties created “a much stronger product.”