The SBA, and participating agencies, are not benchmarking businesses in two federal programs devised to commercialize innovative technologies, according to GAO.
The Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs have awarded $46 billion to small business to develop and commercialize innovative technologies. The SBA and 11 participating agencies have set two benchmarks – the Transition Rate Benchmark and the Commercialization Benchmark – to measure progress and determine businesses eligibility for future awards under the program.
The Transition Rate Benchmark states that small businesses that received more than 20 awards for the first phase of the programs in the past five years must have received an average of one award for the second phase of the programs for every four first phase awards. GAO found that the database used to assess performance against this benchmark contained inaccurate and incomplete data affecting more than 4,000 records.
The Commercialization Benchmark states that small businesses that received more than 15 awards for the second phase of the programs in the past 10 years — excluding the two most recent — must have received a certain amount of sales, investments, or patents resulting from their efforts. The report found that small businesses have only being assessed against this benchmark once, in 2014, and 12 of them failed to meet it.
GAO has recommended that all 11 participating agencies, including the SBA, the DoD and DHS, should update their project program solicitations to reflect how the consequence of not meeting the benchmarks is to be implemented.