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Small Business Innovation Research: Agencies Need to Strengthen Efforts to Improve the Completeness, Consistency, and Accuracy of Awards Data

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Congressional rept.

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The Small Business Innovation Research SBIR program was created to increase the use of small businesses to meet federal research needs and commercialize the results of this research. To monitor the program, the Small Business Administration SBA requires participating agencies to provide, in a standard format, specific data on all SBIR awards they make. SBA then compiles these data into a database known as Tech-Net. Congress also required SBA to create, by 2001, a restricted and more comprehensive database that would provide information for government agencies to use in evaluating the program. GAO was asked to identify the following 1 the types of data that agencies report to the SBA for inclusion in the Tech-Net database, 2 the extent to which these data are provided in a standard format, 3 the extent to which the SBA has established the government-use database, and 4 the extent to which SBIR agencies have developed and implemented techniques to track the commercialization of SBIR projects. GAO reviewed 8 of the 11 agencies participating in SBIR. Participating agencies submit most of the information required by SBA, but they are not consistently providing all required data elements, including the number of employees in the firm, and gender and socioeconomic status of the award recipient, resulting in incomplete sections in the database. SBA is 5 years behind schedule in meeting the congressional mandate to implement a restricted government-use database for the SBIR program. SBA had planned to meet this requirement by expanding its Tech-Net database to include a government-restricted section. SBA officials attribute the delay to increased security requirements, agency management changes, and budgetary constraints. GAO recommends that SBA and SBIR participating agencies work together to improve the quality of the data in SBAs Tech-Net database. SBA and the SBIR participating agencies included in this report generally agreed with GAOs recommendation.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Information Science
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science

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