Federal Research

Interim Report on the Small Business Innovation Research Program Gao ID: RCED-95-59 March 8, 1995

To compete successfully in a global economy, the United States depends heavily on technological innovation through research and development. Because small business is seen as a principal source of innovation, the Small Business Innovation Research program was established in 1982 to strengthen the research and development role of small, innovative companies. Congress reauthorized the program in 1992 and will have doubled the program's funding by fiscal year 1997. This report (1) determines whether the quality of research projects has kept pace with the program's expansion, (2) assesses the implementation of a provision for technical assistance to agencies, and (3) assesses the duplicate funding for similar research.

GAO found that: (1) the quality of research proposals has kept pace with the program's expansion; (2) it is too early to make a conclusive judgment about the long-term quality of research proposals because major increases in program funding have not yet occurred; (3) none of the five major agencies taking part in the SBIR program have implemented the discretionary provision for technical assistance to agencies and future implementation remains uncertain; (4) these agencies have taken steps to provide assistance with the commercialization of research results; (5) duplicate funding of similar research projects has become a problem due to the increasing numbers of research proposals submitted to the SBIR program; (6) a few companies received funding for the same proposals on more than one occasion before the agencies became aware of the duplication; and (7) duplicate funding occurs due to the evasion of certification procedures, lack of consensus on what constitutes a duplicate proposal, and the general lack of current information on recent SBIR awards.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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