Agencies not reviewing research grant applications on time, GAO says

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Written by John Hewitt Jones

According to the Government Accountability Office, some federal agencies continue to miss the deadline for reviewing applications for government research grants submitted by small businesses.

In a new report, the watchdog said that although it identified improvement since a previous audit in fiscal year 2016, several agencies are still not meeting required and recommended assessment timelines.

Agencies with the highest median number of days to notify applicants of an award include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (162), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (135), and the National Science Foundation (232)

According to a policy directive from the Small Business Administration issued in 2020, agencies are required to review proposals and notify applicants within 90 days of the closing date of a solicitation.

Additionally, the guideline recommends that agencies award awards within 180 days of a closing date.

Congress and watchdogs have sought to ascertain how long federal departments take to deliver rewards to small businesses, as they are more vulnerable to funding delays than larger businesses.

Several administrations, including the Biden administration, have sought to use the purchasing power of the federal government to support small business innovation.

In its report, the GAO recommended two actions: that the SBA administrator develop an action plan to improve its annual report to Congress on the matter, and that the SBA official add information on whether awards to the public online awards database.

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