Dear SBIR Gateway Insider,
Although reauthorization continues to dominate the SBIR news, there are other issues that may be of interest to you. As Walter Winchell used to say, "Lets go to press."
In this issue:
House SBIR Reauthorization Bill gets "Cool" Reception in the Senate
It is not uncommon for our two bodies of Congress to have differing views on important legislative issues such as SBIR. Case in point is H.R. 5819, the House's version of SBIR Reauthorization. Most of the Senate "players" we heard from, on both sides of the aisle, agree that the House went overboard on their bill and consequently it is a non-starter.
The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) led by its chair, John Kerry [D-MA], and ranking member Olympia Snowe [R-ME], give the impression that there is little hope for a bicameral solution via H.R. 5819, and thus discussions are underway in the Senate for a more workable bill.
Unlike the House actions on SBIR reauthorization, Kerry and Snowe have spent a significant amount of time and effort over the past two years hearing from stakeholders on both sides of the VC issue. A reasonable compromise was struck via S.3778 in the 109th Congress that both sides could accept, but it was sidetracked due to the election and budgetary issues.
Kit Bond [R-MO], whose alter ego in the House is Sam Graves [R-MO], is beating the drum for BIO and NVCA as he has been doing for the past several years. We hear that Bond is being pressured by his special interests to draw a hard line. However, Bond is capable of being a polished and savvy politician who can work deals and strike compromises. Bond could be key in getting Senate Republicans to support a compromise bill.
The House leadership refused to even utter the "C" word (Compromise), preferring to concentrate on what some call the "CW" phrase (Corporate Welfare for VCs). The VC push was so strong that at least one representative was stabbed in the back by someone in their own party!
Congressman Phil Gingrey [R-GA] (House S&T Subcommittee ranking member), was uncomfortable with the breadth of H.R. 5819's VC language, but nevertheless supported the bill because section 201 had some slight compromise language to help protect small businesses. He offered an amendment to strengthen the language but the rules committee refused to allow his amendment to be considered. In his floor speech, Gingrey thanked the SB committee for including section 210, but suggested that it could be strengthened later.
Within 20 minutes, Sam Graves [R-MO] introduced his amendment to modify section 210 claiming he only made a slight "technical correction" to the section. Mr. Graves' idea of a slight "technical correction" was to double all provisions for the VCs in section 210. He already had played a role to expand 210 to include ownership interest of small businesses by VCs under large business control!
Is it any wonder that all of the remaining original SBIR pioneers/framers are not in favor of H.R. 5819? Roland Tibbetts, the father of SBIR has written an excellent 10 page white paper on SBIR reauthorization, and the problems and dangers that H.R. 5819 poses. You can read it from the SBTC's web site at www.sbtc.org, or directly download the PDF file at www.nsba.biz/docs/tibbetts.pdf
With all of the wonderful House actions in mind, Senators Kerry and Snowe are proceeding cautiously to strike appropriate and reasonable compromises in their committee to garner enough support to pass a good Senate SBIR bill. Then they will face the challenges of conferencing with the House to agree on a final bill to send to the President.
Many "insiders" are doubtful of a new bill passing before the SBIR sunsets on September 30, 2008, so there will likely be an effort to create a continuing resolution (CR) to keep SBIR afloat until the next congress can take up the reauthorization. The "quiet talk" is that BIO/NVCA may oppose a CR because they feel the temporary collapse of SBIR would work in their favor and with their $$$ and support, SBIR could rise as a Phoenix in the next congress to give BIO/NVCA most of what they want.
If a CR is passed, the program may remain "as is" for the period of time delineated in the resolution. With all the major challenges facing the new 111th Congress, it is not likely that SBIR will be at the top of the "to do" list, so it is hard to estimate the duration of the CR.
A short range CR does not necessarily equate to business as usual. The agencies often struggle with CRs, especially when tied to grants and contracts. Some insiders suggest that we could see solicitation schedules deferred, awards and support reduced, not to mention the all important emphasis on "subject to the availability of funding."
In the DoD there could be a reduced interest on the part of the primes to partner with SBIR companies on the basis that the program may be significantly changed or eliminated in the not-to-distant future.
In talking with many SBIR award winning companies over the past few weeks (including dozens of phase II and III winners), the story heard over and over was that of disinterest in the reauthorization process. Many companies are taking it for granted that everything will be fine. Many staffers who want to protect the program and carefully help it grow, are frustrated because they are not hearing from sufficient numbers of you. The squeakiest wheel will get the grease, and without you the grease may result in a seriously diluted program, dominated by larger entities receiving ever growing jumbo awards.
Let the Senate hear from you. You can use the SBTC's action alert system (www.sbtc.org) to write a letter, or construct one of your own. Don't just contact your two Senators, contact those on the Small Business Committee. You can find the list at www.sbc.senate.gov/about or on the SBIR Gateway at www.zyn.com/sbir/articles/sbir-cong08.htm
Important Changes and Trouble in Homeland Security's SBIR Programs
Homeland Security's (DHS) SBIR program has evolved over its short lifetime and has now made a huge change. The original program, formerly known as HSARPA SBIR, managed by DHS's Science & Technology directorate, morphed into DHS S&T SBIR. Now the DHS's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) has separated from the DHS S&T SBIR and has it's own separate and independent SBIR program. Both S&T and DNDO solicitations are on the street, but now comes the problem.
Last issue we announced that DHS S&T SBIR web site was down due to being hacked by an SQL Injection attack (something that has been hitting many web sites lately). The DNDO SBIR web site was also affected.
In what could be described as the SBIR web site equivalent of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," the DHS SBIR web sites are still down after a seven week outage in the midst of two open but separate DHS SBIR solicitations.
Who is Brownie? We don’t really know, but we know who he isn't… The decision to keep the web site down had to be made at a level high above that of the DHS SBIR office. An outage of this duration is almost unparalleled in the annals of web geekdom. Several sites were attacked at the same time as DHS, and were back up and running within days.
Now let's look at the change in procedures you must make to accommodate these protracted outages:
DHS S&T SBIR - is legally known as DHSSBIRFY082 (closes June 27). Since their electronic submission web site is down, there are special procedures for submission. It's somewhat convoluted, but we'll try to explain. They are accepting proposals via email (which is considered very insecure), so the procedures are to protect you. The following is the SBIR Insider's interpretation of DHS S&T instructions. Go to the official FedBizOpps site for DHS S&T instructions. It is located at:
1. You must email email@example.com and notify them of your intent to submit a proposal (notification must be received by Friday, June 20).
2. DHS S&T will email you a confirmation number that you must use when you submit your proposal via email.
3. Use Winzip or PKZIP utilizing a strong password to compress and encrypt your proposal files [NOTE: At the present time the DHS is not offering a method for Mac users. Both Winzip and PKZIP are for Windows platforms. If you use a Mac specific program to encrypt your files, you may risk having your submission rejected. It is highly recommended that you contact DHS if you are unsure of compatibility. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the contracting officer, Elizabeth Moya at 202-254-5619.]
4. Send an email with your zipped file(s) to email@example.com and include the proposal number that DHS assigned to you. Do NOT include your password in this email.
5. Send a separate email to the same address with your proposal number and your password.
6. Make sure you receive a confirmation that your submission was received.
DHS DNDO SBIR – is legally known as HSHQDC-08-R-00066 (closes July 16, 2008). They are using FedConnect as their e-portal. Go to www.fedconnect.net and click on "Search Public Opportunities and Awards", then click on the SBIR link. You'll have to register (even though they say you don't).
You can help the SBIR Insider and our readers by informing us about your experience with either of these issues.
DARPA Gets New SBIR Program Manager
Ever since the retirement of Connie Jacobs earlier this year, the SBIR community was wondering who would become the new DARPA SBIR program manager. That question has now been answered. The Army's loss is DARPA's gain as we learned that Susan Nichols, former Army SBIR program manager, is now the DARPA SBIR program manager.
Ms. Nichols has been the Army's SBIR program manager for several years and helped bring the agency out of the shadows by being a solid supporter of SBIR outreach. Always a friend to regional, state and local outreach organizations, Nichols was a leader in educating and enlightening companies to DoD and Army SBIR opportunities.
There was significant competition for the DARPA position and many SBIR insiders were pleased to see Susan Nichols get the appointment. The Army has not yet named a new SBIR program manager.
Behind the Scenes of the 2008 Spring National SBIR Conference in Orlando
Planning and executing a national SBIR conference takes a good deal of lead time. The NSF sponsored SBIR conferences were generally planned years in advance. When NSF no longer funded these conferences, states were invited by the SBIR agencies to bid on hosting the conferences, generally with 1 year lead time.
The state that was to sponsor the spring 2008 meeting had to back out, and with only a few months lead time, the agencies turned to Lew Attardo and his Florida SBDC group to bail them out. The result was a fine and successful conference that ran smoothly, and a support group that worked their hearts out. Additional kudos to Carl Ray and NASA for stepping up to the plate in their sponsorship for this important conference. Most of the agencies participated and considering the short lead time, the conference was well attended.
What was hidden from all the attendees (and perhaps the agencies) was the fact that Florida was in the process of their largest state budget cut in 75 years. These cuts will seriously reduce many programs including the SBDC that hosted the conference. Major staff reductions are being executed and it is possible that many of the smiling faces that supported the conference will be facing layoffs.
We thank them for their dedication and wish them the best for the future.
NIST Technology Innovation Program (TIP) Update
Although this is not SBIR, the NIST TIP program could be an important funding opportunity for you. TIP is the successor to the NIST Advance Technology Program (ATP) and has some important distinctions to make it more attractive to small businesses.
Like ATP, TIP has a "high risk" criterion, but the program is more tightly focussed on technologies that address "areas of critical national need," a key phrase for understanding TIP. TIP is in the market for solutions to important societal challenges.
As for eligibility, TIP differs from ATP in that funding can go to a single company project led by a small or medium-sized company (large companies are excluded) or to a joint venture, with the important differences that institutions of higher education can be the lead partner in the venture, and resulting intellectual property may reside with any member of the venture, including universities and nonprofits research institutions. Large companies may participate in a TIP joint venture as an unfunded partner.
Marc Stanley, TIP Director, has more professional lives than a cat. His ATP and now the TIP program has been zeroed out 7 times by the President. TIP has been zeroed out for 09, but Congress has a soft spot for him and his programs usually get rescued (in one form or another). The SBIR Insider has heard that a series of TIP kickoff meetings will take place throughout the country. We'll keep you informed about the schedule.
The TIP Critical National Needs (CNN) webcast has been rescheduled to July 8, 2008, from 1:30pm to 3:00pm. For more information please visit the TIP web site at www.nist.gov/tip
Registration Opens for DoD's 2008 Beyond SBIR Phase II Conference & Exhibition
This is the third year for the DoD's Beyond Phase II Conference and it marks the return of the DoD hosting its own event. Last year this event was hosted by the NDIA and was held in Washington DC.
The aim of this conference is to bring together recent SBIR Phase II award recipients, large Federal contractors, other middle market companies and systems developers, investment firms and companies providing services, products and technology to Phase II awardees. This multi-faceted event features "Technology Matchmaking" One-on-One sessions and educational tracks, in addition to an exhibition at which they anticipate over 200 companies showcasing their technologies and capabilities.
This year's conference will be September 2-5, 2008 at the Desert Springs, JW Marriott Resort & Conference Center, Palm Desert, CA. Check the conference web site for details at: www.beyondphaseii.com
2008 Navy Opportunity Forum Recap
Arguably, one of the most important and successful SBIR conferences is the annual Navy Opportunity Forum. This being the Forum's 8th year, the question was if John Williams, (Navy SBIR program manager), could keep the conference fresh and vital to the Navy and its SBIR stakeholders. The answer was a resounding "Yes!"
With well over a thousand registrants, about 200 companies and organizations displayed their wares to acquisition officers, R&D managers, prime contractors, 1st and 2nd tier suppliers, and defense personnel. Even NASA participated in the showcase this year.
Many of the small businesses were phase III winners with impressive technologies and success stories. In fact, during the forum we learned that Materials Sciences Corporation of Horsham, PA had just been awarded two (count em), two phase III awards, both in the $20+ million range (IDIQs).
An important part of the forum are the many side meetings that take place, bringing diverse subjects and groups together to improve the overall Navy SBIR program. Many important prime contractors were there as well.
Speaking of prime contractors, Rich Hendel of Boeing had to be restrained when he saw a Northrup representative talking with the Air Force. [just kidding…]
Once again, Dawnbreaker, the Navy's forum and commercialization contractor, did an outstanding job planning the logistics and supporting the forum.
I hope you still find this publication to be of some value. I welcome your comments, and please respond to this email if you want to be removed from the list.
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