Bennet wants business opinions of federal contracts, asks SBA for quicker loans

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet wants to know what businesses think about their experiences with federal grants and contracting processes.

Bennet launched two online surveys for Coloradans who have applied for, submitted bids or have been awarded federal grants and contracts.

“As I travel the state, I’ve heard from Coloradans who have had both positive and negative experiences with federal grants and contracts,”  Bennet said in a press release announcing the surveys. “These surveys will help me gather more feedback about how these processes have worked and how to make them more efficient and effective.”

The federal contracting survey can be found on Bennet’s website, and the federal grants survey can be found here.

In an effort to help make grants more accessible to Colorado organizations, Bennet recently released a first-of-its-kind comprehensive collection of clear, easy-to-find and accurate information on the pilot projects, grants and workforce development initiatives available to Coloradans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Guide to Grants resource is available here.

Bennet also launched another effort last week, aimed at helping small businesses and start-up companies. The U.S. senator is asking the Small Business Administration to clarify how it plans to respond to concerns about the long wait times when applying for money under the Small Business Innovation Research program.

In a letter to SBA Administrator Karen Mills, Bennet highlighted a new law that requires most participating federal agencies to render SBIR decisions more quickly, as well as shorten the time between when an application is approved and when funding is released. He also asked what role the SBA will play in implementing the new law..

“The SBIR program is an incredibly important resource for many startup companies that conduct innovative research across the state of Colorado,” he said. “I have nonetheless heard repeated concerns from small businesses about the overall length of the SBIR application process. That lag time is particularly acute for companies that are struggling to obtain traditional forms of financing in this difficult economy.”

Specifically, Bennet is asking Administrator Mills if the SBA will:

• Take an active role in monitoring agency compliance with the 90 day deadline;

• Provide guidance for agencies to follow so that they can successfully shorten the time period between the point at which they notify applicants of an award and the point at which they release the funding; and

• Analyze whether certain departments have developed best practices at expediting the application and awards process so that such practices can be applied at other agencies.