SBIR PD 2002
PD Section-by-Section Analysis - Section 11
Responsibilities of SBA
Section 11 of the Policy Directive sets forth the SBA's responsibilities with respect to the SBIR Program. Two commenters questioned how SBA will determine whether follow-on funding non-federal commitments were properly considered in the evaluation of Phase II proposals as set forth in section 11(c)(3). SBA plans to request information from agencies as necessary to meet its monitoring responsibilities.
SBA received several comments about its SBIR database, set forth in section 11(e) of the Policy Directive. There were several general comments about the database. Two comments supported the database and stated that capabilities afforded SBA with Tech Net should improve the ability of participating agencies to best implement the SBIR Program. One comment expressed concern over the data collection from SBCs, believing it may discourage them from wanting to participate in the SBIR Program. In contrast, one commenter stated it does not believe the Policy Directive sets forth an approach to creating the Government database that is responsive to the reauthorization legislation. This commenter believes that the database should track commercialization and account for outcomes that result in savings to the Government, as well as capture the company outcomes like initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions. Yet another commenter recommended that the requirements and format for Tech-net commercialization and sales data be standardized and uniform for all agencies.
SBA agrees that the database and its capabilities will improve the ability of participating agencies to best implement the SBIR Program and allow SBA to evaluate the program as it relates to outcomes and outputs. In addition, SBA believes it has developed the data collection items to meet the requirements of the Act. The format for the Tech-Net commercialization data will be standardized and uniform across agencies.
One commenter stated that because the technical abstract is important for the peer review and internal reviews, it should be at least 200 words, but no more than 400. SBA disagrees and believes that a limit of 200 words, as set forth in section 11(e)(2) of the Policy Directive, is sufficient for the technical abstract of the project. There were also comments concerning specific aspects of the database. Several commenters did not feel that Tech Net should include information about applicants that do not receive a Phase I award because it is too time consuming and useless information. In response, SBA notes that the Act requires specific data to be collected for the Government database regarding each applicant that does not receive a Phase I or Phase II award.
Two commenters stated that the Policy Directive should provide that Federal agencies are not responsible for submitting or verifying the information submitted by the awardees. These commenters also stated that SBA should provide detailed guidelines and instructions to the Phase II firms on the specific information that SBA wants submitted and make allowance for the many ways that companies might try to develop revenue. Another commenter noted that it will be difficult to get valid revenue and investment information from each Phase II awardee. SBA notes that agencies are required to prepare their Phase II proposal packages to meet the requirements of the Policy Directive. This does not include verification of the information concerning revenue and other related information resulting from SBIR awards.
One commenter questioned how funding agreement officers will be able to verify actual awards from other agencies and use the database to view the abstract and determine overlap. SBA is currently considering mechanisms to enable Tech-Net to be used in this way.
One commenter expressed concern about the privacy and security of the confidential information in the database. SBA concurs and has therefore developed the Government Tech-Net Database with security of the data as its prime objective. Similarly, one commenter asked how far the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption extends with respect to the database. According to the Act, information provided pursuant to the Government Tech-Net Database is considered privileged and confidential and not subject to disclosure pursuant to the FOIA.
One commenter suggested that SBA remove the requirement in section 11(e)(9) that requires the Public Tech-Net database to include abstracts for funded projects and replace them with the requirement to include the title of the proposed project and the name, address, telephone number of the official signing for the applicant. SBA disagrees with this suggestion because abstracts are essential to understanding the importance of the projects selected for funding.
One commenter stated that Tech-Net should not replace the current state-by-state detailed listing maintained currently by SBA because it is useful to state economic development agencies. Tech-Net would require states to re-key this information to make specific data requests to SBA, which would not be productive. SBA agrees and will continue to post the state-by-state listing of awards on its website. Similarly, one commenter stated that the Federal Government should share the database with state economic development entities that enter into a use and nondisclosure agreement with the Government regarding the database. SBA concurs. In fact, the Policy Directive provides for such an arrangement.
Another commenter noted that the key word search in Tech-Net has not been helpful so far and that new data fields should be incorporated. SBA agrees that the keyword search can be improved and plans to develop new data fields.
One commenter requested that agencies collecting the data manage all data collection and then provide it to SBA. This commenter does not think it is good to introduce another agency (SBA) that the SBC must deal with. SBA disagrees with this suggestion. Awardees will not need to interact with SBA. Awardees will complete the Tech-Net questions as part of each agency's application procedures.
One commenter stated that the relationship between Pro-Net and Tech Net is not clear. In response to this comment, SBA amends the Policy Directive to remove any reference to Pro-Net, as Tech-Net has been enhanced to provide a seamless link to Pro-Net.