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Small Business Research Programs: Agencies Need to Take Steps to Assess Progress Toward Commercializing Technologies

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Technical Report

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United States Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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Why GAO Did This Study. Through the SBIR and STTR programs, federal agencies have awarded about 162,000 contracts and grants totaling 46 billion to small businesses to help them develop and commercialize new technologies. Eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR program, and 5 agencies also participate in the STTR program. Each program has three phases, which take projects from initial feasibility studies through commercialization activities. SBA oversees both programs. In response to the 2011 reauthorization of the programs, SBA and the participating agencies developed benchmarks to measure small businesses progress in developing and commercializing technologies. GAO was asked to review SBAs and the agencies efforts related to these benchmarks. This report examines the extent to which SBA and the participating agencies have implemented these benchmarks, including assessing businesses against them and establishing the consequence of not meeting them. GAO analyzed award data and interviewed officials from SBA and the 11 participating agencies. What GAO Recommends. GAO is making 11 recommendations to SBA and other agencies to take actions to improve implementation of the benchmarks, including improving the reliability of award data implementing or revising the Commercialization Benchmark and updating information about the consequence of not meeting the benchmarks. SBA and these agencies agreed with GAOs recommendations.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis

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