President Trump signs Hirono-backed improvements to federal contracting and research programs for Hawaii small businesses

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Senator Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, enacted improvements to federal contracting and research programs that will benefit Hawaii small businesses into law. Passed in the Senate as part of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), President Donald Trump signed Senator Hirono’s provisions into law on Friday.

“Hawaii relies on small businesses to drive economic growth and spur innovation, which is why I have continued to advocate for federal programs that support these businesses,” Senator Hirono said. “This year’s NDAA makes changes to promote business opportunities for Native Hawaiian Organizations and their businesses, and to improve research opportunities for other innovative businesses in our state.”

Senator Hirono worked with Senator Sullivan (R-Alaska) to include a provision that will expand federal contracting opportunities for Native Hawaiian Organizations, Alaska Native Corporations, and other Native businesses at DOD. Specifically, the provision raises the threshold applicable to certain DOD contracts from $20 million to $100 million, providing businesses in Hawaii with the ability to compete for larger federal contracts.

Senator Hirono also supported provisions that will improve DOD research opportunities for Hawaii businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Specifically, the bill includes a provision to require procurement centers to support small businesses with research solicitations and provide them with technical assistance. Under the provision, small businesses would also receive assistance to commercialize research developed through the SBIR and STTR programs.

Senator Hirono also supported a provision to align research priorities for DOD SBIR and STTR projects with the priorities in the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy, providing clear guidance for research pursued through those programs.

During the 112th Congress, Senator Hirono introduced legislation to increase federal agency allocations for research and development to small businesses through the SBIR and STTR programs. Those allocations were subsequently increased. In 2018, Hawaii small businesses received 32 research awards through the SBIR and STTR programs worth $25.3 million. DOD accounted for 19 awards worth $18.2 million.

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