SBIR Insider Newsletter Update
November 29, 2011
Here's a quick update on SBIR reauthorization as of 11/29/11. The news is somewhat encouraging with an emphasis on "somewhat."
You would not believe the extent of the effort Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) went through today, fighting for your SBIR program. The House Small Business Committee (HSBC) was once again dragging their feet on reauthorization talks and the program once again found itself in trouble.
Senator Landrieu pulled out all the stops to get the Senate's Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) SBIR bill through the full Senate, and succeed she did. This had to be done with the cooperation of many, including Olympia Snowe, the ranking member of the committee.
The vehicle was the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY-2012. Of course this bill is controlled by the Senate Armed Services Committee, and required the cooperation and support of committee chair, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), and ranking member John McCain (R-AZ).
We must also give major credit to the staff of all these Senators. Their work has been truly amazing.
The NDAA is a large and important bill that authorizes programs for the DoD, but it is currently saddled with many amendments, a few of which are so controversial that the entire bill could defeated. We'll keep an eye on the overall bill for you.
On the negative side, the House Small Business Committee (HSBC) has been less cooperative in working with the Senate than hoped. That's a polite way of saying that House SB committee leadership (both sides of the aisle) continue to try and make SBIR reauthorization the gift that keeps on "giving" (giving to themselves for their party's fund raising). That's part of the cost of being a committee chair or ranking member.
No wonder the House HSBC only wants a 2 to 3 year reauthorization, because they can return to their benefactors such as BIO and NVCA more often. If you look at the HSBC actions over the past several years of reauthorization talks and hearings, you will find that they mainly key on NIH and VC. By comparison, the DoD is virtually ignored by them.
With the inclusion of SBIR in the Senate's NDAA, the leaders of the HSBC, namely chair, Sam Graves (R-MO) and ranking member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) will go crying (as they have previously) to their leadership to pressure the House Armed Services committee to not agree to the SBIR reauthorization in the Senate's NDAA.
Most of our community urges House Armed Services Committee (HASC) leaders to strongly support the Senate's inclusion of SBIR in the NDAA. Mr. Graves and Ms. Velazquez have consistently given the DoD the "short end" in their limited support of SBIR, and it's up to the HASC to fight for this program that saves lives, money, increases American competitiveness, and creates jobs.
Don't take the SBIR Insider's word for it. Look at words of Dr. Charles Wessner, of the National Research Council of the National Academies, who led the most extensive study ever done on SBIR. This included looking over 7,000 projects, 100 case studies, with dozens of reviewers and 20 people on the research team, over several years.
In a Senate hearing earlier this year Dr. Wessner said: "I could put up a list of 10 countries that have copied this program…. And there's a source of dismay to us, the rest of the world is copying it, putting it on steroids, while we're debating it."
Well Dr. Wessner, I hate to tell you this, but earlier this year, Nydia Velazquez even stopped debating it and voted to let the SBIR program lapse. Thankfully her democratic colleagues and leadership "rolled her" and voted to keep SBIR going in a continuing resolution. Although the republicans voted to keep SBIR going, they did so under the very short fuse that Sam Graves constructed.
We'll have follow up for you soon. I'm sorry that I had to go to the old email format for this issue, but I'm on the road in San Antonio and it's 3:00am, so I have to use the quickest and easiest method to get you this information.
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