Friday, January 22, 2010

Senate Calls for FAST SBIR Action

Well, not exactly. But it's a wonderful idea! We've only got a week before SBIR fades away or gets extended -- again.

What the Senate did do this week is call upon the SBA to swiftly implement the allocated funds for the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership that provides funding for SBIR outreach support for the States. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) co-signed a letter from the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee to Karen Mills, SBA Administrator, requesting a schedule by February 12th for the implementation of FAST. View the official Press Release about the letter HERE.

Now, why push for FAST implementation when SBIR's Reauthorization hangs undone? Is this a signal that we can expect some action next week before it expires? I think so. I hope so.

There is the argument that the DOD has independently extended SBIR through the end of FY2010 and this FAST allocation is for FY2010 as well. With DOD having half of the SBIR pot, some FAST funding to support it would surely be put to good use. So, it's being pushed by folks behind the scenes. I support the push and the Senate's advice to the SBA.

But I do see this as a bigger signal. We have ten federal agencies whose SBIR programs will fade away on January 31st without some legislative action. Lack of action would represent a congressional and Obama administration failure.

After the Miracle in Massachusetts this week, our shell-shocked congress and the Obama administration needs something positive to accomplish. They don't need another failure.

Why not make SBIR Reauthorization a shining example of bi-partisan accomplishment?

Best of all worlds? The House accepts the Senate's SBIR Reauthorization Bill and passes it. There was talk of this sort of action for the Health Care Bill, but they didn't have the votes. Nydia Velazquez' expected opposition notwithstanding, they just might have the House votes to do this!

But the alleged compromise (whatever it is) would work too. Just PLEASE get something done by next Friday! Another Continuing Resolution would be better than nothing, but EVERYONE is tired of this.

FAST action..... what a wonderful idea! Call/email/fax your Senators and Representatives today. Give them something productive to work on.


Carl Nelson said...

No surprise: FAST puts definite new money into the states while SBIR has no effect on money in states. Since SBIR merely re-allocates money, to be spent anyway, to a class of political entrepreneurs, and since there is precious little evidence that SBIR makes any economic impact on jobs or any other metric, Congress should see no need to hurry to pass it when other pressing issues need resolution. And any agency that likes SBIR can do it anyway without new legislation.

- Fred Patterson - said...

There are metrics, Carl. Patents filed, Innovation Awards won, companies formed, etc. One can argue economic impact from many angles.

And "political entrepreneurs"? That's a new designation! Not sure what you mean by that. Fact is innovation is driven by entrepreneurs, and small business innovation needs all the support it can get.

True, SBIR does not appropriate new money, but it does go to bolster State economies with a significant multiplier on each dollar's impact. I believe the jury's still out on whether it's provided true stimulus for the economy.

I say let's keep it going, collect some good data on impact and re-evaluate in another decade.