SBIR Policy Directive Updated Jan 8, 2014
Unofficial Presentation by SBIR Insider - www.zyn.com/sbir
7. SBIR Funding Process
** Jan 8, 2014 Amendments in Blue **
7. SBIR Funding Process
Because the Act requires a ``simplified, standardized funding process,'' specific attention must be given to the following areas of SBIR Program administration:
(a) Timely Receipt of Proposals. Program solicitations must establish proposal submission dates for Phase I and may establish proposal submission dates for Phase II. However, agencies may also negotiate mutually acceptable Phase II proposal submission dates with individual Phase I awardees.
(b) Review of SBIR Proposals. SBA encourages SBIR agencies to use their routine review processes for SBIR proposals whether internal or external evaluation is used. A more limited review process may be used for Phase I due to the larger number of proposals anticipated. Where appropriate, ``peer'' reviews external to the agency are authorized by the Act. SBA cautions SBIR agencies that all review procedures must be designed to minimize any possible conflict of interest as it pertains to applicant proprietary data. The standardized SBIR solicitation advises potential applicants that proposals may be subject to an established external review process and that the applicant may include company designated proprietary information in its proposal.
(c) Selection of Awardees.
(1) Time period for decision on proposals.
(2) Standardized solicitation.
(d) Essentially Equivalent Work. SBIR participants often submit duplicate or similar proposals to more than one soliciting agency when the announcement or solicitation appears to involve similar topics or requirements. However, “essentially equivalent work” must not be funded in the SBIR or other Federal programs, unless an exception to this rule applies. Agencies must verify with the applicant that this is the case by requiring them to certify at the time of award and during the lifecycle of the award that they do not have essentially equivalent work funded by another Federal agency.
(e) Cost Sharing. Cost sharing can serve the mutual interests of the SBIR agencies and certain SBIR awardees by assuring the efficient use of available resources. However, cost sharing on SBIR projects is not required, although it may be encouraged. Therefore, cost sharing cannot be an evaluation factor in the review of proposals. The standardized SBIR Program solicitation (Appendix I) will provide information to prospective SBIR applicants concerning cost sharing.
(f) Payment Schedules and Cost Principles.
(1) SBIR awardees may be paid under an applicable, authorized progress payment procedure or in accordance with a negotiated/ definitized price and payment schedule. Advance payments are optional and may be made under appropriate law. In all cases, agencies must make payment to recipients under SBIR funding agreements in full, subject to audit, on or before the last day of the 12-month period beginning on the date of completion of the funding agreement requirements.
(2) All SBIR funding agreements must use, as appropriate, current cost principles and procedures authorized for use by the SBIR agencies. At the time of award, agencies must inform each SBIR awardee, to the extent possible, of the applicable Federal regulations and procedures that refer to the costs that, generally, are allowable under funding agreements.
(g) Funding Agreement Types and Fee or Profit. Statutory requirements for uniformity and standardization require consistency in application of SBIR Program provisions among SBIR agencies. However, consistency must allow for flexibility by the various agencies in missions and needs as well as the wide variance in funds required to be devoted to SBIR Programs in the agencies. The following instructions meet all of these requirements:
(1) Funding Agreement. The type of funding agreement (contract, grant, or cooperative agreement) is determined by the awarding agency, but must be consistent with 31 U.S.C. 6301-6308. Contracting agencies may issue SBIR awards as fixed price contracts (including firm fixed price, fixed price incentive or fixed price level of effort contracts) or cost type contracts, consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulations and agency supplemental acquisition regulations. In some cases, small businesses seek progress payments, which may be appropriate under fixed-price R&D contracts and are a form of contract financing for firm-fixed-price contracts. However, for certain agencies, in order to qualify for progress payments or an incentive type contract, the small business's accounting system would have to be audited, which can delay award, unless the contractor has an already approved accounting system. Therefore SBIR agencies should consider using partial payments methods or on a deliverable item basis or consider other available options to work with the SBIR awardee.
(2) Fee or Profit. Except as expressly excluded or limited by statute, awarding agencies must provide for a reasonable fee or profit on SBIR funding agreements, consistent with normal profit margins provided to profit-making firms for R/R&D work.
(h) Periods of Performance and Extensions.
(1) In keeping with the legislative intent to make a large number of relatively small awards, modification of funding agreements to increase the dollar amount should be kept to a minimum, except for options in original Phase I or II awards.
(2) Phase I. Period of performance normally should not exceed 6 months. However, agencies may provide a longer performance period where appropriate for a particular project.
(3) Phase II. Period of performance under Phase II is a subject of negotiation between the awardee and the issuing agency. The duration of Phase II normally should not exceed 2 years. However, agencies may provide a longer performance period where appropriate for a particular project.
(i) Dollar Value of Awards.
(1) Generally, a Phase I award (including modifications) may not exceed $150,000 and a Phase II award (including modifications) may not exceed $1,000,000. Agencies may issue an award that exceeds these award guideline amounts by no more than 50%.
(2) SBA will adjust these amounts every year for inflation and will post these inflation adjustments at the end of the fiscal year or soon after on www.SBIR.gov. The adjusted guidelines are effective for all solicitations issued on or after the date of the adjustment, and may be used by agencies to amend the solicitation and other program literature. Agencies have the discretion to issue awards for less than the guidelines.
(3) There is no dollar limit associated with Phase III SBIR awards.
(4) Agencies may request a waiver to exceed the award guideline amounts set established in paragraph (i)(1) by more than 50% for a specific topic.
(5) Agencies must submit this request for a waiver to SBA prior to release of the solicitation, contract award, or modification to the award for the topic. The request for a waiver must explain and provide evidence that the limitations on award size will interfere with the ability of the agency to fulfill its research mission through the SBIR Program; that the agency will minimize, to the maximum extent practicable, the number of awards that exceed the guidelines by more than 50% for the topic; and that research costs for the topic area differ significantly from those in other areas. After review of the agency's justification, SBA may grant the waiver for the agency to exceed the award guidelines by more than 50% for a specific topic. SBA will issue a decision on the request within 10 business days. The waiver will be in effect for one fiscal year.
(6) Agencies must maintain information on all awards exceeding the guidelines set forth in paragraph (i)(1), including the amount of the award, a justification for exceeding the guidelines for each award, the identity and location of the awardee, whether the awardee has received any venture capital, hedge fund, or private equity firm investment, and whether the awardee is majority-owned by multiple VCOCs, hedge funds, or private equity firms.
(7) The award guidelines do not prevent an agency from funding SBIR projects from other (non-SBIR) agency funds. Non-SBIR funds used on SBIR efforts do not count toward the award guidelines set forth in (i)(1).
(j) National Security Exemption. The Act provides for exemptions related to the simplified standardized funding process ``* * * if national security or intelligence functions clearly would be jeopardized.'' This exemption should not be interpreted as a blanket exemption or prohibition of SBIR participation related to the acquisition of effort on national security or intelligence functions except as specifically defined under section 9(e)(2) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 638(e)(2). Agency technology managers directing R/R&D projects under the SBIR Program, where the project subject matter may be affected by this exemption, must first make a determination on which, if any, of the standardized proceedings clearly place national security and intelligence functions in jeopardy, and then proceed with an acceptable modified process to complete the SBIR action. SBA's SBIR Program monitoring activities, except where prohibited by security considerations, must include a review of nonconforming SBIR actions justified under this public law provision.
unofficial copy annotated by Zyn Systems