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Committee Examines Reforms to SBIR/STTR Programs

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am
The House Small Business Committee, under the chairmanship of Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), today examined the progress of recent programmatic changes to both the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Under Chairman Graves’ leadership, Congress reauthorized the programs three years ago along with requirements that the agencies implement various reforms that will help spur wider participation from small firms and more effective commercialization of products.

Today’s oversight hearing was the second of two hearings examining the agencies’ compliance with those changes. The first hearing focused on the private sector impressions of the programs. Today, the Committee focused on oversight of the public sector role, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Small businesses are great sources of innovation, so investments in research and development of the best ideas spurs economic growth and creates jobs,” said Chairman Graves. “The SBIR and STTR programs are effective tools to help bring promising ideas to the marketplace. The most recent reauthorization of these programs included some important steps to increase commercialization and generate wider participation by small businesses.  Today’s testimony helped us learn more about the agencies’ progress, and in some cases, the need for us to continue to monitor these efforts.”

Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.

Notable Quotes:

Javier Saade, Associate Administrator, Office of Investment and Innovation, United States Small Business Administration, Washington DC, said, “These programs make up the largest seed investing pool on the globe. While we are still the undisputed world leader in innovation, we are not alone and many countries are making serious commitments to their own innovation efforts… We need to continue to invest in our future as others catch up so that we may be able to maintain our leadership for the 21st Century.”

Andre Gudger, Director, Office of Small Business Programs, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense, Washington, DC, said, “The programs are tools for the Department of Defense (DoD) to seed innovation in our industrial base, and, in so doing, develop leading-edge technologies with the potential to meet warfighter needs, today and in the future. Now, more than ever, we need to leverage the responsiveness, efficiency, capability, and technological innovation our nation’s small businesses provide.”

Dr. Matthew Portnoy, Program Manager, NIH SBIR/STTR, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, said, “Among the 11 Federal departments and agencies that participate in these programs, the NIH is one of the largest funders of this program, and the largest Federal supporter of biomedical research. The SBIR/STTR programs continue to be critical to feeding the innovation pipeline that promises to deliver the medical advances of tomorrow and have complemented NIH's mission to advance science while bringing new health care solutions to the public.”

Marie Mak, Acting Director, Acquisition & Sourcing Management Team, General Accountability Office, Washington, DC, said, “While we recognize there are challenges to improving transition data, we continue to believe it is important for DOD to develop and implement a plan for obtaining more comprehensible and reliable measures of transition. Without better information on technology transition, questions will remain as to whether the DOD SBIR program is providing the right technologies at the right time to users, using effective approaches to select, develop, and transition technologies, and providing tangible benefits.”

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Kline Statement: H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

Across the country, millions of college students are getting ready to start the school year. They will soon say goodbye to family and friends and pursue their dream of a postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many Americans are struggling to turn that dream into reality.

The higher education system we know today is too costly, too bureaucratic, and outdated. Some are having a hard time fitting the traditional college experience into a busy lifestyle that already includes work, family, or both. Others are graduating with a pile of debt and no job prospects.

A college degree can open the door to a bright and prosperous future, yet too often obstacles stand in the way. Ultimately states and institutions must provide the answers students and families need, but Congress has a role to play as well.

First and foremost, we need to continue promoting policies that will get this economy moving again, so every college graduate who wants a job can find a job. We can also adopt commonsense reforms that will improve our higher education system.

Today the House will begin to do just that. We have an opportunity right now to advance reforms that will support innovation and empower students to make informed decisions about their college careers. H.R. 3136 is the first step in that effort.

The bipartisan Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act will allow institutions to expand an innovative approach to higher education, known as competency-based education.

This model of education defines a set of skills for a field of work and then measures student progress in acquiring those skills. Once a student demonstrates a level of skill or competency, he or she can move to the next step in the academic program.

Instead of awarding a student credit hours for time spent in class, competency-based education allows a student to learn at a pace tailored to his or her specific needs. If you’re a single mom, you may need more time to complete your degree while juggling the demands of work and kids. Or if you’re a dad out of a job with a family to support, four years sitting in a classroom is time you do not have.

Competency-based education holds tremendous promise. It allows students to earn a degree in less time and even at a lower cost than in a traditional education setting. Yet it is difficult for institutions to expand this innovative model under a system that values time over learning.

H.R. 3136 will help us move in a different direction. The legislation directs the secretary of education to authorize a number of demonstration projects to test and strengthen competency-based education.

Among other provisions, the legislation requires the secretary to focus on programs that are designed to reduce costs and the time it takes to earn a degree. The bill requires a thorough evaluation of each demonstration project so policymakers learn which programs demonstrate success and what specific roadblocks are standing in the way.

Mister Speaker, this is a good bill that will help make a difference in the lives of students and families. I want to thank the bipartisan authors of the legislation, Representatives Matt Salmon, Jared Polis, and Susan Brooks. I urge my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time.

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Walberg Statement: Hearing on Improving the Federal Wage and Hour Regulatory Structure

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

For more than 75 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act has provided America’s workforce with crucial federal wage and hour protections. Every day the vast majority of employers do their part to ensure workers enjoy these vital protections. Unfortunately, that is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge.

The current rules and regulations surrounding the law are exceptionally complex and outdated. Too often a maze of confusing regulatory requirements promotes the interests of trial lawyers, rather than working families. A report issued by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reveals a broken regulatory structure that fosters unnecessary and costly litigation.

According to the report, “The number of FLSA lawsuits filed nationwide in federal district courts has increased substantially, with most of this increase occurring in the last decade.” The GAO report continues, “Since 1991, the number of FLSA lawsuits filed has increased by 514 percent, with a total of 8,148 FLSA lawsuits filed in fiscal year 2012.” A more than 500 percent increase in litigation during the last two decades; clearly something isn’t right.

You would think employers are engaged in some coordinated national conspiracy to deny workers their rights. The truth is the vast majority of employers want to do the right thing and follow the law, but too often they unknowingly step into a regulatory trap. Even the Department of Labor has run afoul of wage and hour regulations and they are responsible for writing the rules and enforcing the law.

As litigation has increased, the number of guidance documents issued by the department has sharply declined. Between 2001 and 2009, the department released an average of 37 guidance documents each year. Yet in the last three years, the Obama administration has issued a total of seven – just seven during the last three years.

As the GAO notes, improving guidance “could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of [the department’s] efforts to help employers voluntarily comply with the law.” What’s the harm in assisting employers in understanding their legal responsibilities? Why wouldn’t we want to help employers understand their obligations, so they can stop spending time inside a courtroom and instead invest their resources into growing a successful business and creating jobs?

We’ve heard a lot in recent months and years about executive authority. We are told this is supposed to be a so-called year of action. Too often these actions stretch the limits of the law and even our Constitution. Yet when it comes to using a pen and phone to help employers understand a complex and confusing regulatory scheme, the Department of Labor can’t be bothered.

Earlier this year, the president issued an executive memorandum directing the secretary of labor to revise federal wage and hour regulations. There is obviously some agreement the rules are outdated and need to be improved. At that time, Chairman Kline and I said that if the president was beginning a sincere attempt to modernize current regulations, then the committee would support such an effort.

In fact, we hope we can be a partner in that effort and today’s hearing should certainly inform that work. We need responsible change that will bring these rules into the 21st century, while also safeguarding worker protections. The committee stands ready to assist, but more can be done to help employers comply with the law. The department has a job to do and we hope this government accountability report will encourage the agency to get to work.

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Monday Morning Mojo: Decisive

InteroMojo - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:26am

Hmmm…should I do it or shouldn’t I?

I’m going to wait and think about it for a while before I make my decision…I need to get more information.

I will get back to you on it.

I will do it tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.

Yeah right…sure you will. Just like the 2,000 emails in your inbox you are going to reply to…right? Does this sound familiar? Does it sound like you?

Well, this is how most people make decisions. They don’t make them at all because they are risk averse. Afraid of making the wrong decision, afraid of change. They just wait and wait and wait and never actually decide to do anything. That is why they continue to get what they have always gotten in life and don’t get what it is they really want.

Not being decisive and making quick decisions is one of the biggest success killers in life and business because one of the most important components to getting what you want is making a lot of decisions quickly with very little information. It’s about going with your instinct. Successful people understand that to get what you want you must operate with a strong sense of urgency. Because to get what you want, especially in this day and age, you must accelerate in all aspects of your life, even if it means living with a few more ragged edges.

You have to be 100% focused on action.

Successful people don’t get bogged down in endless preparation and evaluation trying to get things perfect before making a decision. Of course making smart decisions and high quality is crucial, but it must come quickly. You can’t sacrifice speed. Learn to fail fast, fix it, and race on. This is how you create radical breakthroughs.

Not only does being decisive get you in action toward accomplishing your goals, but it gets it out of your head. Think how many unmade decisions you have floating around in your head right now that are taking up space and your time. Instead of making a decision and then actually doing something productive to accomplish your goals, you are debating all of those unmade decisions in your head all of the time whether you know it or not. Unmade decisions are the parking brake of life, let it go!

Imagine how much more productive and happy you would be if you would just make the commitment to be decisive and not waffle ever again.

Freedom.

Here is a great piece of advice someone gave me several years ago. Don’t go with your head and don’t go with your heart because more times than not they are in conflict with one another and you will never be able to make the decision. Go with your gut. Don’t over think it because your first instinct is almost always right. If it feels right just do it, and do it with focus and intensity. What does your gut tell you to do about each of those unmade decisions floating around in your head right now? Quit procrastinating. Just do it.

And yes if you think I am writing this to you, I am.

Make is a powerful week!!!!!

Categories: Latest News

The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (S.1340): Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced a Full Committee hearing on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. titled, “The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (S.1340): Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers.”

Please note the hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled st...

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Subcommittee to Examine Regulatory Structure of Federal Wage and Hour Law

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00am

On Wednesday, July 23 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), will hold a hearing entitled, “Improving the Federal Wage and Hour Regulatory Structure.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth federal wage and hour protections for public- and private-sector workers. The Department of Labor estimates more than 130 million workers are affected by the law. A patchwork of conflicting interpretations and a complex regulatory structure have created an environment of legal uncertainty among employers and employees. A report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found a significant increase in FLSA-related litigation. The GAO recommended the department develop a systematic approach to identifying areas of confusion and improve administrative guidance for employers and employees. 

Wednesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the growth of FLSA-related litigation and current compliance assistance efforts. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

# # #

WITNESS LIST

Ms. Judith Conti
Federal Advocacy Coordinator
National Employment Law Project
Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Paul DeCamp
Shareholder
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Washington, D.C.

Ms. Nancy McKeague
Senior Vice President of Employer and Community Strategies, and Chief Human Resources Officer
Michigan Health and Hospital Association
Okemos, MI
**Testifying on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management**

Dr. Andrew Sherrill
Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Washington, D.C. 

 

President Signs Bipartisan, Bicameral Job Training Reform Agreement

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released the following statement after President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

Today's achievement is the result of a lot of hard work and compromise by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. We rejected petty politics and put the best interests of working families first. Now we have a new law that will protect taxpayers and help put more Americans back to work. The American people deserve to see more of these bipartisan accomplishments. It is time to get back to work and find other areas of common ground that will help expand opportunity and prosperity for working families.

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, click here.

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Monday Morning Mojo: Decisive

InteroMojo - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:32pm

Hmmm…should I do it or shouldn’t I?

I’m going to wait and think about it for a while before I make my decision…I need to get more information.

I will get back to you on it.

I will do it tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.

Yeah right…sure you will. Just like the 2,000 emails in your inbox you are going to reply to…right?  Does this sound familiar?  Does it sound like you?

Well, this is how most people make decisions. They don’t make them at all because they are risk averse. Afraid of making the wrong decision, afraid of change. They just wait and wait and wait and never actually decide to do anything. That is why they continue to get what they have always gotten in life and don’t get what it is they really want.

Not being decisive and making quick decisions is one of the biggest success killers in life and business because one of the most important components to getting what you want is making a lot of decisions quickly with very little information. It’s about going with your instinct.  Successful people understand that to get what you want you must operate with a strong sense of urgency. Because to get what you want, especially in this day and age, you must accelerate in all aspects of your life, even if it means living with a few more ragged edges.

You have to be 100% focused on action.

Successful people don’t get bogged down in endless preparation and evaluation trying to get things perfect before making a decision. Of course making smart decisions and high quality is crucial, but it must come quickly.  You can’t sacrifice speed. Learn to fail fast, fix it, and race on. This is how you create radical breakthroughs.

Not only does being decisive get you in action toward accomplishing your goals, but it gets it out of your head.  Think how many unmade decisions you have floating around in your head right now that are taking up space and your time. Instead of making a decision and then actually doing something productive to accomplish your goals, you are debating all of those unmade decisions in your head all of the time whether you know it or not. Unmade decisions are the parking brake of life, let it go!

Imagine how much more productive and happy you would be if you would just make the commitment to be decisive and not waffle ever again.

Freedom.

Here is a great piece of advice someone gave me several years ago.  Don’t go with your head and don’t go with your heart because more times than not they are in conflict with one another and you will never be able to make the decision.

Go with your gut. Don’t over think it because your first instinct is almost always right. If it feels right just do it. and do it with focus and intensity. What does your gut tell you to do about each of those unmade decisions floating around in your head right now?  Quit procrastinating. Just do it.

And yes if you think I am writing this to you, I am.

Make is a powerful week!!!!!

Categories: Latest News

Weekend Wellness: Wind

InteroMojo - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 9:00am

As I was driving into work the other day, the wind had the flags flying at full extension. The trees were leaning a few degrees and there were leaves scattered everywhere.

As an outdoor enthusiast, wind is one element I have a hard time with. I’d rather hike, run, cycle, even water ski in the rain vs. the wind.

As I was noticing the wind, I recalled how many times I’ve been on my bike in some pretty serious weather finding these to be my most challenging rides. However, when you are on a bike, or out for a run and the wind kicks up, you have no choice other than persevering and finishing. You won’t change the wind, you can’t change that you are out in the elements and you certainly can’t quit (especially if you have no one to pick you up!) Part of the mistake is not looking at the weather report earlier and seeing what the wind conditions are…this could have avoided a lot of issues!

So in the moment…you accept it. That’s what you do, you recognize that you are in a tough moment, accept it safely and prevail. You put one leg in front of the other and eventually you get to your destination. One can also get strategic and head towards the hills to get out of the head wind. The key is “what can I do to reduce the pain as much as possible and make the event more enjoyable”?

I then thought about some of my clients who step on the scale or try on a pair of pants in the morning and they’ve gained a pound or their pants are tight. They let it ruin their whole day. They probably made some questionable choices the day or two before and are now feeling the results.

I have been there, I understand this thought process…but does it change the reality? No! They failed to look at the wind report, so to speak. Accept the reality and decide what can be done moving forward in a safe and healthy way so that the day is more enjoyable!

We fight things (I do too) that we can’t change. We resist the force of nature instead of seeing the realness of what we are in (or might have avoided). And you know what…all this does is cause us pain.

Next time you are going out in your “wind”, find a way to accept it, pedal on and find a way to detour a little so it don’t ruin your day; instead learn from it and look towards your destination.

Categories: Latest News

Rockefeller Questions GM CEO on Behalf of West Virginia Family That Tragically Lost Son in Accident Involving Recalled GM Vehicle

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, yesterday questioned the CEO of General Motors on behalf of Sam and Belinda Spencer of West Virginia who tragically lost their son, Leslie, in an automobile crash along US-460 in a 2007 Chevy Cobalt – one of the models subject to GM’s recalls because of the defective ignition switch. The Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, yesterday held a hearing to examine the GM recalls.

According to the...

Cool Apps: Canva: It Was Made For Real Estate

InteroMojo - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 9:00am

This past May I introduced you to Canva, the pretty awesome site that gives you the tools to design beautiful eye catching web posts for facebook, pinterest, blogs, twitter and more.

I’m bringing it back today because the site just released a great blog on how to use their pieces specifically for Real Estate. That’s right, this site was made just for you!

You have to check it out as they have some great suggestions on what to post, how to connect with your audience and make it worth your while.

Read the Blog HERE

 

Categories: Latest News

Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: Jack Welch

InteroMojo - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 9:00am

This week during my morning workouts, I’ve been listening to a great interview that Darren Hardy of SUCCESS Magazine did with Jack Welch earlier this year. It was featured in the magazine’s Change Maker issue that came out last month. I have always had a special place in my heart for Jack Welch because his first job at GE in 1960, was as a junior engineer in my hometown of Pittsfield, Mass., making $10,500 a year.

As Hardy says, Mr. Welch “isn’t a change maker because he took General Electric’s revenue from 25 billion to 130 billion, grew it’s income 10 fold and its market capitalization 30 fold under his 21 year leadership. He’s a change maker for how he’s done it.” He’s reinvented what the standard is for business everywhere. Even as a retired man, he still focuses on how he can change things through his various outlets.

In this particular interview, Welch outlines some of the tactics he’s developed throughout his career and features in his book, Winning (I’ll share more about that book next week). He also gives some great suggestions in finding success by looking outside the business for ideas, showing respect and caring for your people, and understanding that everyone is a mentor. All of these suggestions are great to keep in mind no matter what stage of business you’re at.

The part of this interview I love the most is where he talks about managers giving their team credit for their ideas. Jack says “managers grow from the reflective glory of what their people do. They will have no problem building great teams, hiring great people and the results will speak for themselves.”

There really is some great insight throughout the interview. If you’re interested in hearing the whole thing, you can subscribe to SUCCESS magazine HERE. You can also read the article that was included in last month’s issue to learn more about Jack Welch HERE. You’ll definitely walk away enriched.

 

Categories: Latest News

Thune Questions GM and Delphi Executives on Ignition Switch Recall

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, questioned top executives at General Motors (GM) and Delphi about their failures resulting in the GM ignition switch recall at today’s Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee hearing.

“GM has admitted, via a consent order that it failed to report this safety-related defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a timely manner,” said Thune. “The internal report prepar...

The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing titled, “The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D,” on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 2 p.m. 

Please note the hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to automatically begin streaming the webcast.

Individuals with disabilities who require a...

GSA's Maintenance Repair & Operations Strategic Sourcing Solution Gets Green Light

GSA news releases - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:00am
Combined Expertise Will Shape New Strategically Sourced Contract Vehicle

Rockefeller, Thune Statement on STELA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) and John Thune (R-SD), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement regarding the committee’s plans to reauthorize expiring provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) of 2010:

“The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will consider and report legislation during the Senate’s September work period, including the reauthorization of expiring provisions of the Sa...

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