The Small Business Administration’s Innovation Research and Technology Transfer awards are seen as a way to help small businesses drive innovation within 12 federal agencies, with DOD accounting for most of the awards. The program, which has been around for 40 years, is set to expire Sept. 30.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the top Republican of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee said he is opposed to reauthorization without reforms.

“There are currently severe risks to national security when China continues to steal technology seeded by this program,” a spokesperson for Sen. Paul told Defense News.

Pentagon officials are encouraging the program’s reauthorization.

“Failure to reauthorize the programs will result in approximately 1,200 warfighter needs not being addressed through innovative research and technology development,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante and Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu wrote in a recent letter to Congress. “In addition, any lapse could result in thousands of small businesses being forced to lay off workers, or drive them to other sources of funding, to include foreign investment.”

The committee’s chair, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said there are still avenues for passing the reauthorization.

Army photo by Kristen Kushiyama