The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report on Oct. 12 finding that the Small Business Administration (SBA) needs to improve the timeliness of the agency’s reporting of awards for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) programs that it administers.

The two programs allow small businesses to partner with the Federal government to innovate in the realm of science and technology, while allowing the businesses to profit from commercialization of their technologies.

GAO looked at how the program has been run from fiscal years 2016 to 2021, and found that participating agencies improved their timeliness on issuing awards over that period, although it said that timeliness of awards lagged for defense agencies compared to civilian agencies.

The watchdog agency, however, flagged SBA for the timeliness of its reporting on the programs.

“SBA has been consistently late with its annual reports from FY 2016 to FY 2021 – between 6 to 16 months late. Without a comprehensive, documented analysis of its process for developing these annual reports, it is unclear whether SBA is missing opportunities to take action to improve the timeliness of its required reports,” GAO said.

GAO added that SBA should consider uploading data on its awards timeline as an alternative to keep the public informed, and avoid having to simply wait for reports to be released.

“While SBA is not required to do so, providing current award timeliness data on its website would offer an alternative source of information to Congress and the public about agencies’ performance in meeting award time frames and could spur further improvements,” the report says.

SBA agreed with both of GAO recommendations to:

  • Identify and implement actions to improve timely issuance of its annual report; and
  • Add SBIR and STTR award timeliness data to its website.

President Biden late last month signed into law the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Extension Act of 2022, which extends the programs for another three years. They had been scheduled to expire on September 30.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.