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SBIR Program Diversity and Assessment Challenges: Report of a Symposium
tract. Small-business representatives were very concerned when they heard this, and presented the agency with the same arguments and the same proposition they had expressed to the Navy and Marine Corps. The NSA was skeptical that it would be able to meet their goals while doing more for small businesses. However, Dr. Bartlett and his delegation argued that the Navy and Marine Corps had had success with an even more dispersed system. As a result, the NSA is now attempting to meet the goal of directing 35 percent of its contracting to small business and 10 percent to direct-pay.
Evaluations are Essential
He congratulated the NRC committee on holding its first meeting, and agreed that evaluations are essential to the health of programs. He said that the SBIR program has been successful in his opinion, but that “no matter how good a job you’re doing, if you look carefully you probably can find ways to do an even better job.” He encouraged the panel to focus on looking for opportunities to make a good program better.
“This is particularly important for two reasons,” he said. “One is that we are now in a recession, and if small business performs now as it has in the past, it will provide most of the new jobs that will bring us out of this recession.” But he also cited a new challenge, “one that we have not faced for nearly 200 years.” That is, on September 11, 2001, a foreign entity had killed Americans on home soil in large numbers for the first time since the War of 1812. All the other wars we had fought, he said, were “over there,” with minimal physical impact on this country. We were now engaged in a war like none other we had ever fought, he said, and it appeared clear that the wars of the future would be very different from past wars. “We’re going to need new creativity, and new innovations, and it will be largely the small-business part of our private sector, I believe, that will be responsible for these new creativities.”
He thanked the steering committee for inviting him to participate in the symposium, and for its “commitment to creativity.” He closed by saying he wished he could participate more fully, contributing his experience in science and innovation, but the pressures of the congressional election cycle left him little time for any activities beyond campaigning.