Uncertainty in American Politics Lead to Uncertainty in SBIR/STTR

Courtesy of SBIR Insider  October 2016 Update

I’m sure it is no surprise to you that with politics being at its lowest level in recent memory, the near future of government programs and budgets are in disarray.  Under our current Continuing Resolution (CR), our government is only funded through Dec 9, 2016, and it will be up to our returning Congressionals to address another CR (albeit short or long term) in this lame duck session of our 114th Congress.  I do fear the term “lame duck” will be an insult to our fine feathered friends.


The likelihood of an SBIR/STTR reauthorization in the 114th, is virtually non-existent.  In reality, after the election we will have only about 8 working months to try and pass SBIR reauthorization, and considering the last time we fought for reauthorization, it “only” took from Oct of 2008 to December of 2011.  Keep in mind, our community started to fight for the 2008 reauthorization back in 2006!


Although many incumbents are likely to get re-elected, there will be a significant number of new people elected (both House and Senate).  Staying away from party politics (i.e. who will control House & Senate), one thing is common to both parties, newbies are often put on committees of lesser standing, which include “Small Business” (in both House and Senate, and “Science, Space & Technology” in the House.  This is not so much the case for the Armed Services Committees, who will play a role in SBIR reauthorization.


Over the years the newbie factor has been a major reason why “educating” our new members of congress, (as well as refreshing incumbents) about the SBIR program, is so important!  You know the “University Elites” (UEs pronounced YOU-EEs) are, and will be spending tens of millions to get every nickel of grant funding available for themselves (and that includes funds that would be used for SBIR).  Note: this does not include all university people, there are many in the universities who see SBIR as being a useful tool in their programs, BUT the majority of the UEs in S&T see SBIR as taking their research money away.


Okay, I’m just going to come out and say this, and if I lose you, I’m sorry, feel free to unsubscribe, but the following is indisputable:  We always knew the opposition party (the one you’re not with) was dirty, but now you know your party is also dirty.  It’s immaterial who is dirtier, but what is germane is knowing how to “legally” work with the elected officials who can support your program.  To do that, you have to show “what’s in it for them.”  If SBIR creates jobs in their constituency, you give them credit and publicly thank them (not to mention a contribution to their fund raising efforts if appropriate).


Congressional education, or (L)education, as former Dept of Education’s SBIR PM Lee Eiden described it, should be done at local and national (DC) levels, and by individual as well as collective efforts.  Collective efforts are done by advocacy groups, the largest SBIR group is Small Business Technology Council (SBTC), but there are others as well, and we’ll discuss in the next issue (unless you fire me).

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