Tuesday, June 27, 2017
 

NOAA's Implementation of Key Changes in SBIR Policy Directives

The SBIR/STTR Re-authorization Act of 2011 and the recently released Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Policy Directive have brought about numerous changes to the program, many of which are quite complex.  NOAA is working to implement these changes and the table below illustrates the actions we have taken and future planned actions.

 

SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011

NOAA’s Implementation of Key Changes in SBIR/STTR Policy Directives

Funding

(Addresses the following sections of P.L. 112-81: 5102, 5103, 5109, 5121 &5141)

 

Public Law

112-81

Section

Small Business Administration Position

NOAA’s SBIR Program Implementation

Set-aside percentages are increased

 

Section

5102

For FY2012, SBA as issued guidelines to the agencies that the set-aside share is increased to 2.6%, prior to the new Policy Directives being issued.  The share will increase by 0.1 percentage point each fiscal year until it reaches 3.2% for fiscal year 2017.  It will remain at that level after that.

 

Implemented in FY12 at 2.6%.

The increases set-aside will be implemented as follows:

  •     2.7% in FY13

  •     2.8% in FY14

  •     2.9% in FY15

  •     3.0% in FY16

  •     3.2% in FY17

For STTR, the set–aside percent was increased to 0.35% for 2012 and 2013, and will increase to 0.4% for 2014 and 2015, and to 0.45% for 2016 and thereafter.  Note that agencies may exceed these minimum percentages.

N/A, as NOAA does not have an STTR Program.

 

Award Sizes

Section

5103

STTR award sizes (guideline amounts) are increased to match SBIR amounts: $150,000 for Phase I and $1 million for Phase II.  Awards may not exceed guideline amounts by more than 50% ($225,000 for Phase I and $1.5 million for Phase II).  Agencies must report all awards exceeding the guideline amounts and must receive a special waiver from SBA to exceed the guideline amounts by more than 50%.

N/A, as NOAA does not have an STTR Program.

 

In FY13, the NOAA SBIR Program will maintain its current award thresholds:

 

  • $95,000 for Phase I

  • $400,000 for Phase II

Admin funding pilot

 

Section

5141

A new pilot program permitting agencies to use 3% of their SBIR funds for administration of SBIR and STTR programs.  Each agency must submit their plan of work to SBA for approval by 10/1/2012.  The funds should be used to provide added support rather than to replace the non-SBIR funds formerly used, and then the work should focus on material improvements in performance of the program on critical issues (e.g. streamlining the award process).

The NOAA admin funding pilot work plan is under review.  A key focus of the work plan will include outreach to increase proposal submissions from under-represented groups and under-represented states.

 

Implementation will be later in FY2013.

 

While funding comes from the SBIR budget only, it is to be used for administration of both programs

N/A, as NOAA does not have an STTR program

Technical assistance

Section

5121

The amount of SBIR funds permitted to be used for technical assistance is raised from $4,000 to $5,000 per award per year.  This is to be in addition to the award amount for both Phase I and Phase II.  Awardees may contract this amount to a provider other than the vender selected by the agency.

NOAA does not currently have a Commercialization Assistance Program, but will pursue for FY2014.

Collaborating with Federal Laboratories and Research and Development Centers

Section

5109

Subcontracting portion of award to Federal laboratory is permitted.

The NOAA SBIR Program Office will implement this with the issuance of its FY2013 solicitation.

 

Eligibility

(Addresses the following sections of P.L. 112-81: 5104, 5105, 5106, 5107, 5111 & 5165)

 

Public Law

112-81

Section

Small Business Administration Position

NOAA’s SBIR Program Implementation

VC-owned firms

Section

5107

The biggest change in eligibility required by the reauthorization legislation will be allowing firms that are majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds and/or private equity firms to receive SBIR and STTR awards.  SBA has published a proposed rule to amend SBIR/STTR size regulations (Federal Register Vol. 77, No. 94, May 15, 2012) to make this change and to make other modifications to the ownership requirements and affiliation rules.  This proposed rule was open for public comment through July 16, 2012.  The SBA is currently reviewing the comments and plans to issue the final rule in early 2013, at which time the changes will become effective.  Until then, the current regulations at 13 C.F.R §121.702 remain in effect.

NOAA will not participate in this option. Therefore, small businesses that are majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds and/or private equity firms are not eligible to apply to the NOAA SBIR Program, nor are such firms eligible to receive SBIR awards.

Company registry

 

All applicants will be required to register with the Company Registry Database at www.sbir.gov at the time of application.  This will become effective when the size regulation final rule is published in the Federal Register (anticipated date is 1/1/2013).

The NOAA SBIR Program will implement this in the first solicitation it releases after SBA issues its final ruling on this issue.  This is anticipated to be implemented no earlier than the FY2014 solicitation.  The solicitation will include the registration instructions.

Cross-program awards

Section

5104

Agencies have the option to allow STTR Phase I awardee to receive SBIR Phase II award and SBIR Phase I awardee to receive STTR Phase II award.  Implementation is at agency discretion.

N/A, as NOAA does not have an STTR Program.

Cross-agency awards

Section

5104

Clarifies that a Phase I awardee may receive a Phase II award from an agency other than the one that awarded the related Phase I.  Reporting to SBA by both agencies is required.

This will be done on a case-by-case basis through Program managers at NOAA and other SBIR agencies.

Direct to Phase II pilot

Section

5106

For fiscal years 2012-2017, the NIH, DoD, and Department of Education may issue Phase II SBIR awards to firms to pursue Phase I solicitation topics without requiring the applicant to have received a Phase I award for related work.  Implementation is at agency discretion.

N/A to NOAA

Open Phase II competition

Section

5105

Beginning 10/1/2012, agencies must allow all Phase I awardees to apply for follow-up Phase II award.  Issuing Phase II awards via invitation only will not permitted.  Agencies will need to include information on the Phase II application process on all Phase I solicitations released on or after 10/1/2012 and notify their Phase I awardees of this change in practice.

NOAA’s SBIR Program has always permitted ALL Phase I awardees to apply for Phase II and will continue to do so.

Second Phase II

Section

5111

Agencies may award a second, sequential, Phase II to continue a Phase II project.

NOAA does not currently plan to exercise this option.

Commercialization standards for Phase I applicants:

 

Phase I to Phase II

Transition Rate

Section

5165

Beginning 1/1/2013, Phase I applicants that have won prior SBIR/STTR Phase I awards, must meet agency-specific standards for progress towards Phase II.  Proposed benchmark rates will be published in the Federal Register for comment on 10/1/2012.

The NOAA SBIR Program as submitted its proposed Phase I to Phase II transition rate to SBA.  SBA will publish each agency’s Phase I to Phase II transition rate in the Federal Register.  Public comment will be accepted for 60 days.  The Phase I to Phase II transition rate will be implemented after SBA addresses the public comments.  The Phase I to Phase II transition rate is anticipated to be implemented no earlier than the FY2013 solicitation.

Phase II to Phase III Commercialization Rate

 

Effective 10/1/2012, Phase I applicants that have previously won SBIR/STTR Phase II awards, will be required to meet agency-specific standard rates of commercialization success from those Phase II awards.  Proposed benchmarks will be published in the Federal Register for comment on 7/1/2013.

The NOAA SBIR Program Office will provide its proposed Phase II to Phase III Commercialization Rate to SBA in mid- to late- FY13.  SBA will publish the rates in the Federal Register, allowing for a 60-day comment period.  Due to this timeline, the NOAA SBIR Program Office will not implement the Phase II to Phase III commercialization rate in FY13.  The earliest it will implement this rate will be FY14.

Company commercialization record

 

Once the necessary data systems are in place, all applicants will be required, as part of the application process, to provide information on the commercialization of their prior SBIR/STTR awards.  The anticipated date for this to be operational is 10/1/2014.

Stay tuned.  As SBA completes each of the many databases, NOAA will notify applicants and awardees regarding how and when to use each.

 

Streamlining the Award Process

 (Addresses the following sections of P.L. 112-81: 5126)

 

Public Law

112-81

Section

Small Business Administration Position

NOAA’s SBIR Program Implementation

Streamlining the award process

Section

5126

The Reauthorization Act requires changes aimed at reducing gaps in time between close of the solicitation and notification of award.  Agencies are to implement these measures as soon as is practicable.  In addition, the Policy Directives include new reporting requirements for the participating agencies to develop data needed to monitor and analyze these time lags.

The NOAA SBIR Program is committed to shortening the period from close of solicitation to contract award for Phase I efforts.  It will strive to achieve the fo

llowing:

  •     A final decision on each submitted proposal will be made not later than the 90 days after the date the solicitation closes.

  •     Shorter time between the SBIR award notice and the contract award.

For Phase II awards, time will be measured from the due date of the Phase II proposal to contract award.

 

Data and Reporting

 

Public Law

112-81

Section

Small Business Administration Position

NOAA’s SBIR Program Implementation

Central data system

 

An improved program-wide data system will be developed to facilitate administrative reporting and program evaluation.  The system will enable applicants and agencies to provide the required information into the Tech-Net database (www.SBIR.gov).  Tech-Net will consist of the following databases:

    1. Solicitations Database of all solicitations and topic information from the agencies;

    2. Company Registry housing company information on all SBIR applicants including specific information on SBC applicants that are majority-owned by multiple VCOCs, hedge funds and/or private equity firms;

    3. Application Information Database of information on each SBIR application;

    4. Award Information Database of information on each SBIR awardee;

    5. Commercialization Database of SBCs that have received prior SBIR awards;

    6. Annual Report Database used to generate the Annual Report that SBA submits to Congress; and

    7. Other Reports Database containing information required by statue but not stored in other databases.

 

These databases will be designed to minimize the reporting burden on small business.

Stay tuned.  As SBA completes each of these many databases, NOAA will notify applicants and awardees regarding how and when to use each.

 

New Measures to Guard Against Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

(Addresses the following sections of P.L. 112-81: 5143)

 

Public Law

112-81

Section

Small Business Administration Position

NOAA’s SBIR Program Implementation

Company certification

Section

5143

Awardee firms must certify they are meeting program requirements not only at the time of award, but also at points during the lifecycle of the award.  Lifecycle certification was recommended by a working group of Inspector Generals.  This does not alter the policy that awardees may complete their SBIR/STTR award even if they no longer meet the definition of an SBC.

NOAA currently requires lifecycle certification and will continue to do so.

Information systems

Section

5143

Agencies must:

  •      Include on their website, and in each solicitation, a telephone hotline number or web-based method for reporting fraud, waste and abuse;

  •     Include on the agency’s website successful prosecutions of fraud, waste and abuse in the SBIR Program;

  •     Designate at least one individual to serve as liaison for the SBIR/STTR Program to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the agency’s Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO); and

  •     Maintain procedures to enforce accountability (e.g., creating templates for referrals to the OG or SDO).

Effective immediately, starting with the FY2013 NOAA SBIR Solicitation, instructions and information regarding how to report SBIR fraud, will be included.  In addition, the website at www.techpartnerships.noaa.gov includes such information.  Future solicitations will also include this information.

 

 Increased Support for Commercialization

(Addresses the following sections of P.L. 112-81: 5108, 5121, 5122 &5123

 

Public Law

112-81

Section

Small Business Administration Position

NOAA’s SBIR Program Implementation

Technical assistance

Section

5121

Amounts increased to $5000, flexibility on use, applies to STTR as well.

The NOAA SBIR Program does not currently have a Commercialization Assistance Program, but will pursue for FY2014.

NOAA does not currently have and STTR Program.

Commercialization Readiness Programs

Section

5122

and

5123

DoD Commercialization Readiness Pilot is made permanent and includes the STTR program; Commercialization Readiness Pilot programs for civilian agencies are authorized allowing agencies to use up to 10% of SBIR/STTR funds to support commercialization and Phase III efforts.

Stay tuned for further information.

Phase III preference

Section

5108

Agencies directed to support SBIR/STTR awardees in their efforts to commercialize SBIR/STTR work through, among other things, Phase III sole-source contracts.

The NOAA SBIR Program Office will continue to stress the need to move Phase II projects to Phase III.  It will continue to educate technical program managers and contracting officers on the need for and benefits of Phase III contracts.