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SBIR and STTR have kept inaccurate tabs on the progress of funded companies, report shows

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 7th, 2018

A recent report shows that two popular Small Business Administration (SBA) funding programs that serve many university start-ups have errors significant enough to impact whether agencies can accurately track if projects are meeting their goals.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs award contracts to support innovation, research and development among small businesses. Both programs are required to establish benchmarks to monitor the progress of contractors in developing and commercializing their innovations. Completing development benchmarks leads to a new phase in funding and support, while failing to reach benchmarks in a certain amount of time results in the loss of a contract for at least a year.

According to the new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), SBIR and STTR show inconsistent data filings, including incomplete information and multiple files for the same contractors. GAO argues that this makes SBA unable to keep up proper enforcement of the benchmarks through its databases.

The report shows that SBA officials estimated four to seven small businesses didn’t meet a specific benchmark each year and were ruled ineligible, yet investigators found that the data used to generate the lists of ineligible companies were sometimes altered and therefore inaccurate.

Investigators also found a significant amount of incomplete, missing, or inaccurate data. “For example, based on our review of the award data from 2007 through 2016, we identified more than 2,700 small businesses that had multiple records with different spellings of the same business’s name,” the report said. “Furthermore, we identified more than 1,400 instances in which a unique identification number had errors, such as having an incorrect number of digits, all zeros or hyphens.”

GAO has offered 11 recommendations on requiring better information on contacts, revising the benchmark guidelines and updating the consequence policy.

Source: fedscoop

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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