SBIR Policy Directive 2012
I. Section 10--Agency and SBIR Applicant/Awardee Reporting Requirements
SBA has amended this section of the Policy Directive to address the reporting requirements for both the SBIR participating agencies and SBIR applicants, many of which are newly required by various parts of the Reauthorization Act. In an effort to streamline and standardize the various reporting requirements, SBA will be gathering this information at one source--www.SBIR.gov. Both applicants and agencies will be able to provide the statutorily required information into one or more specific databases, collectively referred to as Tech-Net and to be phased in over a period of time according to a plan that is complementary to but not part of the Policy Directive.
SBA published a notice in the Federal Register, 77 FR 16313, on March 20, 2012 explaining this data collection and seeking comments. One of the comments expressed concern that SBA was unnecessarily seeking information from small businesses. This is not the case. The Reauthorization Act sets forth a number of data requests SBA and the SBIR agencies are required to collect from small businesses. This data collection is intended to ensure that only those small businesses that meet the requirements of the program receive an SBIR award and to enable assessment of the program.
SBA has sought to reduce any burdens this data collection may have on small businesses. Because SBA will be collecting the data into one location, small business and agencies will only have to input certain information once, and then update as necessary. For example, when a small business inputs information for the Company Registry, some of the information will populate some fields in other databases, such as the Commercialization Database. Likewise, if an agency provides awardee information into the Awardee database, some of information will populate the Annual Report Database.
The seven databases addressed in the directive are the:
SBA currently has some of these databases ready for operation with the needed data fields and anticipates a phased implementation for the remaining databases and data fields.
The directive explains that the Solicitations Database will collect all solicitations and topic information from the participating SBIR agencies. It will serve as the primary source for small businesses searching for SBIR solicitations. Agencies must therefore update this database within 5 business days after a solicitation's open date. SBA will have a Master Schedule showing all agency solicitation open and close dates.
The Company Registry will house company information on all SBIR applicants. It will contain information on SBC applicants that are majority-owned by multiple VCOCs, hedge funds or private equity firms, which by statute are required to register in an SBA database prior to submitting an SBIR application. This database will also house the registration information for those SBCs that receive an award as a result of the Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program for Civilian Agencies. All potential SBIR applicants will be required to register in the Company Registry prior to submitting an SBIR application.
SBA believes it is important to maintain such a Company Registry for several reasons. First, in order to prevent fraud, waste and abuse it would be best to house the data in one place so that the company must register itself and use that same registration (same name and identifying number) for each application. In addition, at the time the company registers, SBA intends to have online information relating to eligibility to ensure that the business understands the requirements of the program. Second, certain information on applicants is required by statute and therefore it would be best to have the applicant enter the data once (and update as needed), instead of each time it submits an application to an agency. Third, this registration is no different than others used in Federal contracting, such as the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). There are numerous small business that are registered in CCR and it does not appear to be a burden or difficult for small businesses to register their information into a central database in order to receive a contracting benefit afforded small businesses.
The directive also explains that the Application Information Database will contain information concerning each SBIR application, which will be uploaded by an agency at least quarterly. Some of the information inputted by the SBIR applicant into the Company Registry will filter to this database. Other information, such as the contact information for the Federal employee reviewing the applications and making awards, will need to be inputted by the agency. This database will also contain information required by section 5135 of the Reauthorization Act, including information relating to the names of key individuals that will carry out the project and the percentage of effort the individual will contribute to the project.
The Award Information Database will store information about each SBIR awardee and must be updated by the agency quarterly. Award data is generally reviewable and searchable by the public. Some of the information collected from the Company Registry and Application Information Database will filter to this database.
The Commercialization Database will store commercialization information for SBCs that have received SBIR awards. This includes information relating to revenue from the sale of new products or services resulting from the R&D conducted under a Phase II award and any business or subsidiary established for the commercial application of a product or services for which an SBIR award is made, among other things. The information contained in this database will be used by SBCs and agencies to determine whether the SBC meets the agency's commercialization benchmarks, discussed above, and for program evaluation purposes. SBCs may provide the information to the SBA's database directly or to the agency, which will collect it and upload it to SBA's database.
The Annual Report Database will include all of the information required by the Small Business Act, including the new requirements set forth in the Reauthorization Act regarding the Annual Report that SBA submits to Congress. SBA receives the information for the annual report from the various SBIR agencies and departments. To reduce the burden on the agencies and departments, data from the other databases will filter to the Annual Report Database. SBA requests that agencies provide the other information for the annual report to SBA by March 15th each year.
Some of the information that agencies will be required to provide by March 15 includes new information required by the Reauthorization Act, such as an analysis of the various activities considered for inclusion in the Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program for civilian agencies set forth in section 12(c) of the directive and a description and the extent to which the agency is increasing outreach and awards to SDBs and WOSBs.
The Other Reports Database will include information that is required by statute to be submitted, but does not fit into any of the other databases. For example, section 5110 of the Reauthorization Act requires agencies to provide SBA notice of any case or controversy before any Federal judicial or administrative tribunal concerning the SBIR Program of the Federal agency. A case or controversy between a Federal or administrative tribunal would not include agency level protests of awards unless and until the protest is before a Federal court or administrative body. It would include litigation that is before a Federal or State court, or administrative tribunal such as the Government Accountability Office.
Further, section 5161 of the Reauthorization Act requires that agencies provide an annual report to the SBA, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the House Committee on Small Business, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on the SBIR and STTR Programs and the benefits of these programs to the United States. The statute requires the final report be posted online so it can be made available to the public. This section lists this and other new reporting requirements, set forth in the Reauthorization Act, for the SBIR agencies.
Finally, SBA has a new section in the directive that identifies all of the waivers that may be requested and submitted by an agency to SBA, and which are discussed in various other parts of the directive. The following waivers may be granted by SBA: (1) An extension for additional time between the solicitation closing date and notification of recommendation for award; (2) permission to exceed the award guidelines for Phase I and Phase II awards by more than 50% for a specific topic; (3) permission to not use its SBIR funds, as part of the pilot allowing for the use of such funds for certain SBIR-related costs, to increase participation by SDBs and WOSBs in the SBIR Program, and small businesses in states with a historically low level of SBIR awards; and (4) permission to issue a funding agreement that includes a provision for subcontracting a portion of that agreement back to the issuing agency if there is no exception to this requirement in the directive.