October 4, 2022

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Modest Enterprise Investigate Courses: Air Drive Experienced Achievements in Some Regions with New Awards Method

What GAO Found

In June 2018, Air Force applied a new “open topics” system for issuing Small Business enterprise Innovation Analysis (SBIR) and Compact Business Technological innovation Transfer (STTR) awards to attract new compact firms and produce technology alternatives speedier to the Air Drive. The new method provides firms additional latitude to suggest technological innovation answers to meet up with Air Force’s desires. Enlargement of the new system coincided with an overall improve in Air Force’s SBIR/STTR energy. By the finish of fiscal yr 2020, the new approach had mainly displaced the agency’s regular awards method, in which precise challenges and mission needs were being recognized by Air Drive (see determine).

Amount of SBIR or STTR Awards, Dollars Awarded, and Amount of Organizations that Received Awards under Air Force’s Open Topics or Regular SBIR/STTR Awards Course of action, Fiscal Decades 2018 by means of 2020

*Providers that obtained the two open matters and traditional awards in fiscal years 2018 by way of 2020 are integrated much more than at the time in the bar graph displaying the number of firms.

Air Force’s new process was far more successful than its common SBIR/STTR awards course of action in attracting new firms and issuing awards speedily. According to GAO’s investigation of Air Force SBIR/STTR award information and federal contracting knowledge, around 43 percent of the 1,001 open up topics awardees had no prior federal contracts, in comparison to 14 p.c of the 771 regular awardees. Also, Air Drive took in between 108 and 126 less days, on typical, to problem open up subjects awards in fiscal decades 2019 and 2020 for the 1st SBIR/STTR program stage. An April 2021 research identified that open matters awardees were being extra likely to attain subsequent enterprise capital or non-SBIR/STTR contracts.

Info and assessment gaps, however, restrict Air Force’s ability to assess the efficiency of the new course of action. Its 2021 impact report did not address whether participation among the women-owned modest corporations amplified, as referred to as for in the committee report. Also, Air Force did not be certain the report’s data on participation by disadvantaged enterprises and firm dimensions was existing and dependable. Making certain data in this sort of studies are current and reliable would aid Air Power in examining the arrive at and usefulness of the open up subjects procedure.

Why GAO Did This Review

Air Power is among the largest federal funders of SBIR and STTR awards to compact companies. It issued over 4,800 these kinds of awards in fiscal years 2016 through 2020 to aid companies’ know-how commercialization and provide technology solutions to fulfill Air Force’s requirements. Considering the fact that 2018, Air Drive has swiftly expanded the new open topics SBIR/STTR awards course of action.

The Home committee report accompanying the National Protection Authorization Act for Fiscal 12 months 2021 involves provisions for GAO to overview the new procedure. This report examines (1) how Air Pressure executed its new awards procedure and (2) what is acknowledged about the process’s effectiveness—as in comparison to Air Force’s regular SBIR/STTR awards process—in attracting a broad array of companies decreasing award issuance occasions and enabling commercialization by way of subsequent undertaking cash expense or non-SBIR/STTR federal contracts.

GAO analyzed Air Drive SBIR and STTR award info from fiscal years 2016 as a result of 2020 and files, which include evaluations of the new approach. GAO also analyzed agreement documents for a non-generalizable sample of 17 awards, and interviewed Air Drive and DOD officials and awardees.