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An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Defense
This assessment focused on use of commercialization records in proposal evaluation.
GAO-07-38.Small Business Innovation Research: Agencies Need toStrengthen Efforts to Improve the Completeness, Consistency, and Accuracy ofAwards Data.
In response to a congressional mandate for a review of SBIR at the five leading agencies, DoD has commissioned the NRC to undertake the current study. This review follows the previous NRC report on the Fast Track program at DoD which compared Fast Track firms with the regular SBIR program at DoD. During the NRC study’s gestation, DoD program managers also commissioned a smaller, more focused study by RAND that was just recently completed.25
NRC Fast Track.
Navy Output Report (private).
Program report (50 slides).
NavAir S&T report.
6.11 ADMINISTRATIVE FUNDING
The decentralized organization of SBIR at Defense makes it difficult to precisely determine how much administrative funding is spent on SBIR, or where that funding comes from. The DoD SBIR office is currently engaged in an effort to gather this information, but does not believe that precise accounting is likely, given the wide variety of inputs into the selection and management process, almost all of which is not directly charged to any SBIR budget line.26
Prior to the establishment of SBIR, each agency was presumed to be adequately staffed and funded to administer its R&D budget, and SBIR constituted only a change of direction, not an increase in R&D spending, so no additional administrative funding was anticipated. The SBIR legislation prohibits federal agencies from using any of the SBIR set-aside to administer the program. DoD thus incurs costs to administer the SBIR program—and interviews with staff suggest that it is more expensive to operate a program with hundreds of small contracts than with a single large contract—but receives no offsetting line item appropriation.
Each service and agency has had to absorb the costs of managing its SBIR program out of existing budgets. Within the components, this decentralization continues. For example, the Navy SBIR program office controls the budget for
Bruce Held, Thomas Edison, Shari Lawrence Pfleeger, Philip Anton, and John Clancy, Evaluationand Recommendations for Improvement of the Department of Defense Small Business InnovationResearch (SBIR) Program, Arlington, VA: RAND National Defense Research Institute, 2006.
Interview with Michael Caccuitto, DoD SBIR/STTR Program Administrator, November 27, 2006.