[Pages S2468-S2470]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                               SBIR/STTR

  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I wish to talk about another topic. Senator 
Kirk and 36 other Members of the Senate are cosponsoring an amendment 
we would hope to add to the small business bill if we ever get back to 
it.
  This is an amendment we offered independently as a bill 1 month ago, 
the Gas Accessibility and Sustainability Act. What this bill does is 
take further an effort that was put into law in 2005, right before 
Hurricane Katrina, that allowed the President to suspend the unique 
boutique fuel standards in the country if there was a natural disaster.
  That happened immediately--within a couple weeks, as I recall--after 
the bill became law. The President used that authority. In the 6 months 
following Katrina, even though the gulf was obviously disrupted and a 
couple of refineries were very disrupted, gas prices did not go up 
because, for the first time since the passage of the Clean Air Act, 
gasoline was a commodity again.
  What this bill would do, as we now see gasoline prices at $4.37 in 
Hawaii, at $3.88 in St. Louis, and particularly prices that are high in 
communities that have a unique blend of fuel that is only available in 
that community, is allow the President to have that authority, if there 
is any kind of disruption, if the Suez Canal was shut down for some 
period of time, if a refinery went down, if there was a pipeline 
disruption that truly made it very difficult for communities to get 
their unique blend of fuel but was much easier for them to get fuel 
that met the standard of being ``fuel'' at the gas pump.
  Senator Kirk and I introduced this together. He was a great advocate 
of this bill when it passed the House. I would like to turn to him for 
a moment and see what he has to say today about this bill that allows 
us to look at the gas prices that are creating real problems in the 
country today.
  Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, I note that under the Blunt legislation, we 
would correct a growing problem in the United States with gas prices. 
Right now, for example, in the Chicagoland area, gas prices total about 
$4.14 a gallon. I am sure in Missouri it is probably quite high.
  Mr. BLUNT. It is $3.88 in St. Louis, which would be the area that we 
have that uses specialty fuel.
  Mr. KIRK. This map shows that by Federal regulation the Federal 
Government has divided the national gasoline market into 17 separate 
submarkets. These 17 submarkets all have their unique recipe of 
gasoline. By Federal regulation, one cannot use gasoline that was sold 
in Chicagoland, which under this chart is the Chicago and Milwaukee RFG 
ethanol standard, in the St. Louis area, the SRFG standard with 
ethanol. By creating small, tiny monopolies, we create higher prices 
for the American people. I think that is why the Blunt legislation is 
necessary.
  Mr. BLUNT. I thank the Senator for those comments. Using his chart, 
in Missouri you can buy one blend of gas in St. Louis, another blend of 
fuel in the Kansas City area, and a third blend yet in between. So, 
clearly, these areas are not even unique in the fuel that is used 
there. If you buy fuel driving from one city to the other and use the 
other half of the tank while you are driving around in St. Louis, you 
are using fuel that is available generally anyhow.
  This does a couple of things. One, it allows, in a time where it is 
hard to get fuel for any reason, the President to waive those 
standards. The other thing it does is, it caps these fuels so if the 
EPA decides under the Clean Air Act that you have a clean air 
attainment problem in your city, you have to go and look at the 
existing fuel blends and choose from one of them rather than what had 
happened in the country up until 2005, which was every city somehow 
became convinced there was a unique fuel blend for them that only would 
work there that never would quite work anywhere else. That doesn't make 
sense. We have headed in the other direction. This legislation heads us 
a little further and a little faster in a direction to where we don't 
have these unique blends. We have fuel as fuel again. Whether it is the 
restaurateurs whom some of us may have seen today or various 
businesses, if fuel is $4 a gallon, something has to give, and it goes 
throughout the entire economy. This helps solve that problem.
  Hopefully, we can be talking about an energy bill before too long. 
But, clearly, whether it is a small business bill or any other bill, 
the cost of fuel makes a real difference in the country today. This 
amendment that we hope to offer eventually to the small business bill 
is one of the things that will help solve the problem.
  Mr. KIRK. The unhighlighted areas are where regular gasoline is sold. 
The highlighted areas are where these little gasoline monopolies, by 
Federal regulation, have been created. What happens if another 
hurricane hits the gulf? If this area was lacking its specific kind of 
gasoline under current regulations, it could not borrow gasoline from 
Missouri or Chicagoland or anywhere else. So we have created an 
incredible price rigidity in the system. Long term, I think we should 
move the country to one clean burning fuel. But the one thing we should 
not do is have 17 different submarkets, all now with the ability to 
charge the American driving public much higher prices than would 
otherwise be the case.

[[Page S2469]]

  I commend the Senator. This is exactly why we need the Blunt 
legislation. The Blunt amendment should pass to address this problem, 
one of the reasons gasoline costs too much in the United States.
  Mr. BLUNT. I thank my friend from Illinois, a long-term proponent of 
this concept. We will continue to work for solutions that make gasoline 
and the fuel system work better and make more sense for people all over 
America.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss two amendments to 
the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011, S. 493, which would improve 
our oversight of the critical Small Business Innovation Research, SBIR, 
and Small Business Technology Transfer, STTR, programs.
  First, I would note that S. 493, which I introduced in March with 
Senate Small Business Committee Chair Mary Landrieu, has broad, 
bipartisan support, and has the backed of divergent stakeholders who 
have long been at odds on how to proceed in reauthorizing these 
successful programs.
  Our legislation includes a provision requiring the National Academy 
of Sciences, NAS, to continue its evaluation of the SBIR program. The 
NAS has produced a series of informative and groundbreaking reports on 
the SBIR program which helped inform Chair Landrieu and I as we sought 
to reauthorize this crucial initiative.
  That said, the STTR program lacks any significant analysis or 
evaluation since its inception in 1992. While we can point to annual 
data provided by the Small Business Administration to demonstrate its 
effectiveness, it is critical that independent, outside experts explore 
the STTR program and make recommendations for how to improve it when we 
next consider reauthorization of these initiatives.
  My first amendment would require that the NAS also evaluate the STTR 
program. Instead of a separate report, the NAS would be required to 
consider STTR in its ongoing evaluation of the SBIR program, which 
would be completed four years following enactment of the legislation. 
This would avoid expending additional resources necessary to produce an 
independent report on STTR during these difficult economic times.
  Additionally, S. 493 incorporates a recommendation from the NAS 
landmark study to allow agencies to use three percent of their SBIR 
budgets for administrative, oversight, and contract processing costs. I 
am concerned, however, that Congress will not have adequate knowledge 
about how the agencies are utilizing this funding.
  As such, my second amendment requires these agencies to submit a 
report each year to the relevant congressional committees detailing in 
a specific manner how they are using these administrative funds. These 
reports will allow us, in our responsibility of oversight, to ensure 
these taxpayer dollars are being used wisely, and to examine these 
agencies' spending choices for any waste or abuse. Additionally, it 
will help inform us of the need, or lack thereof, to continue this 
pilot initiative in future reauthorizations.
  My amendments are simple, straightforward, good government 
initiatives that allow us to examine the effectiveness of these 
critical job creation programs, and to keep a watchful eye on how 
Federal agencies are utilizing taxpayer dollars. I would urge my 
colleagues to support them.
  Mr. INOUYE. Madam President, our Nation continues to struggle out of 
the economic downturn that swept across the country a few years ago, 
and today, I am pleased that the Senate is considering S. 493, the 
reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research, SBIR, and 
Small Business Technology Transfer, STTR, programs. The Congress has 
worked toward improving the economic conditions for small businesses to 
survive these challenging times. It is important for us to sustain this 
incubator for high-tech innovation, research and development, and the 
driving force of our economic engine, our entrepreneurs. Today's global 
economy is only getting more and more competitive, and in order to 
maintain the United States' edge in science, technology, and 
engineering, opportunities to encourage small businesses through 
programs like the SBIR/STTR will benefit all of us.
  I wish to highlight some of the successes in my home State, Hawaii, 
that were assisted by the SBIR/STTR program. Since the program began in 
1983, the State of Hawaii has received 313 SBIR grants, for a total of 
$94.4 million. One of these companies is Referentia Systems 
Incorporated, an applied research and development company dedicated to 
providing relevant and innovative cyber security and network enterprise 
solutions to meet the critical needs of our national security and 
Federal Government. Referentia was started in 1996 with a staff of 30, 
and now employs 94 people at military bases throughout the Nation and 
overseas, with offices in Honolulu, HI; San Diego, CA; Albuquerque, NM; 
and Sterling, VA. In its earliest years, the fledgling small 
disadvantaged business secured its first SBIR Phase I award in 2004. 
Since then, Referentia was awarded 13 more SBIR Phase I and 7 SBIR 
Phase II grants. Three of Referentia's core building blocks were 
developed with SBIR grants. These include: LiveAction, for cyber 
security and network enterprises; Sprocket, for cross-boundary data 
conditioning and cross-enclave data transfer; and Time Series Rapid 
Exploration, or T-REX, for data storage and analysis. The result of the 
opportunities created for Referentia helped to position them in the 
growing and important cyber security market. These SBIR/STTR grants 
generated deliverable products that Referentia is working to transition 
into long-term programs of record with the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, 
and Joint Operations programs.
  The discovery, energy, and motivation of our entrepreneurs also power 
the inquisitiveness we find in the fields of science, engineering, and 
high-technology development. Through the SBIR/STTR programs, the 
sustainability of small companies that benefited from the relationships 
they have formed doing SBIR/STTR work have encouraged partnering with 
large systems integrators and the government in an effort to seek 
solutions that address the evolving challenges we face. Another Hawaii 
small business that participated in the SBIR program is TeraSys 
Technologies, LLC. TeraSys Technologies secured a Phase I SBIR from 
Naval Sea Systems for the development of an interoperable solution for 
counter remote controlled improvised explosive devices and blue force 
communications. As a result of TeraSys Technologies' work on the SBIR 
Phase I, a Phase II award was made from the Joint Tactical Radio System 
office. I am pleased to report that TeraSys Technologies secured a 
Phase III award to support a high-priority requirement for our 
military's current engagement in the Middle East. The ultimate goal for 
TeraSys Technologies, and all companies that participate in the SBIR/
STTR program, is to use their Phase III award toward securing a large 
production order of their product following the rigorous testing it has 
undergone, and will undergo in ``real-life'' conditions during the SBIR 
Phase III. Should TeraSys Technologies be successful in their efforts, 
it would be a boost to Hawaii's economy, and include final product 
integration in the State.
  A few of the words describing any small business owner include 
energetic, creative, and highly motivated. Most of us believe that 
great strides or discoveries are made due to the research and 
development investments that large science, engineering, and technology 
companies make within various sectors. The understanding that small 
businesses drive our Nation's vibrant economy, and that high-tech 
businesses with less than 500 employees are extremely innovative 
spurred the SBIR/STTR programs' creation. The drive to grow their 
enterprises and bring their ideas to the marketplace may not always 
work out quite as they plan. On occasion, an entrepreneur is awarded an 
SBIR/STTR grant to solve one particular problem, and it leads to an 
unexpected opportunity. For example, in Hawaii, Navatek, Ltd., a 
company founded in 1979, and based in Honolulu, HI, has been producing 
innovation through research by developing, building, and testing at sea 
advanced ship hull designs and associated technologies. Navatek, a 
beneficiary of SBIR Phase I and II awards, originally presented its 
technology at the Navy Opportunity Forum 2010 for ``Dynamic 
Compensation for Towed Bodies.'' This particular project's intent was 
to help the Navy solve the problem of conventional small surface craft 
unable to

[[Page S2470]]

tow AQS-20 and AQS-24 mine hunting submersible sonar bodies. As it 
turned out, the SBIR Phase II indirectly advanced Navatek's aft lifting 
body invention, and led to an opportunity with the U.S. Special Warfare 
Command. Navatek continues to work toward securing a Phase III award, 
and highlights some of the unreported benefits that come from the SBIR/
STTR programs.
  I have provided the experiences of three small businesses in my home 
State. They, and other companies, are examples of the direct and 
indirect impact the SBIR/STTR programs' mission to foster and encourage 
innovation and entrepreneurship in the research and development 
activities of major Federal agencies. We can calculate how much 
programs cost the U.S. taxpayer, and the companies and jobs that 
resulted from the competitive nature of the SBIR/STTR programs. What we 
cannot quantify is the value of ensuring involvement by science, 
engineering, and technology entrepreneurs in research and development. 
The people of Hawaii, and all Americans, hope to provide a brighter 
future for their children. I firmly believe the future success of our 
children will depend on maintaining our competitive edge in the world. 
We must continue to uphold and reaffirm our commitment to the 
innovators and entrepreneurs in this country by completing our work on 
the SBIR/STTR reauthorization bill.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Hagan). The Senator from Texas.

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