Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, led a bipartisan effort to urge the Army to award small businesses with a significantly higher proportion of grants and contracts for medical research under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).
Congressman Bartlett said, "Most innovations in the United States come from small businesses so it doesn't make sense that small businesses are receiving only two percent of grants and contracts from the Army for applied medical research compared to 15% awarded to small businesses by the biomedical research authority of the European Union. This is another of my ongoing initiatives to increase opportunities for small businesses to compete for contracts and for our government to buy more efficient and innovative products to get the best value for taxpayers' dollars."
Reps. Bartlett, Walter Jones (R-NC) and Judy Chu (D-CA) made the request in a letter sent to Major General James Gilman, M.D., Commanding General, Medical Research & Material Command (USAMRMC) located at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Text of the letter is below.
Major General James Gilman, M.D.
Medical Research & Material Command
Fort Detrick, MD 21702
Dear General Gilman:
The undersigned Members of Congress write to express our concern at the significantly low level of grants and contracts awarded to small businesses by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).
Since FY92, over $7 billion dollars have been appropriated by Congress to the CDMRP program resulting in over 10,000 grants and contracts to research organizations throughout the U.S. However, less than 2 percent of these grants and contracts have been awarded to U.S. small businesses. We believe that this small portion undermines the ability of this research to result in the development and testing of innovative biomedical products that improve the health of military personnel and civilians. Moreover, as small businesses are the primary source of new jobs in the U.S., the CDMRP is not maximizing its potential value in stimulating sustainable job growth at a time of persistent unemployment in our nation.
It is noteworthy that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invests nearly $31 billion annually in biomedical research of which about 97% is directed to academic research. Academic research usually results in peer-reviewed publications, not novel products such as drugs, devices, and diagnostics. There is no reason for the CDMRP to replicate the funding model or priorities of NIH. Rather, CDMRP should focus on the translation of previously funded research into tangible biomedical products, using proven DOD funding models, particularly in those areas where private capital in unavailable or insufficient. In this regard it should be noted that venture capital investments in U.S. life science companies dropped more than 40% in the first half of this year.
The biomedical research authority in the European Union allocates about 15% of its funding to small business and we urge that at least this percentage be a minimum for CDMRP award allocations beginning in FY13. Furthermore, we suggest that representatives of entrepreneurial biotechnology and medical device firms be invited to help CDMRP shape its programs, priorities, and review processes on a go-forward basis.
At a time of stagnant economic growth with rising government debt, our nation must turn to its small business innovators to deliver novel products to the marketplace in a timely manner that result in new jobs that can be sustained without perpetual government funding. We urge the CDMRP to rapidly evolve its funding priorities to help us advance this national mission.
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT
WALTER B. JONES