|Small Business Research Programs: Most Agencies Met Spending Requirements, but DOD and EPA Need to Improve Data Reporting|
Data submitted to the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicate that most of the agencies participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs met spending requirements for fiscal year 2015. Nine of the 11 agencies participating in the SBIR program and 4 of the 5 agencies participating in the STTR program submitted the required data on obligations for extramural research or research and development (R&D)—which is generally conducted by nonfederal employees outside of federal facilities—needed to determine whether they met spending requirements. Of the agencies that submitted the required obligations data, 8 of 9 met SBIR spending requirements and all 4 met STTR spending requirements for fiscal year 2015. GAO could not determine compliance for 2 agencies—the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—because these agencies did not submit the required obligations data. Officials at most agencies, including DOD and EPA, identified difficulties in using extramural R&D obligations data to calculate spending requirements and determine compliance. A working group of several participating agencies is considering proposing an alternative methodology to calculate spending requirements, according to an agency official involved in leading the effort. Until DOD and EPA find ways to provide obligations data or until the calculation methodology is changed, these 2 agencies will not know whether they have met the spending requirements, which limits SBA's reporting of that information to Congress.