November 28, 2016
Dear SBIR Insider,
Long time readers know that any inclusion of politics in our SBIR Insider is in relation to small business, the SBIR and STTR programs and to a lessor degree, federal laboratory technology transfer. We are non partisan and have no interest in trying to influence your political preferences. Please keep that in mind as we report on the trends we are seeing and how your voice may help strengthen and possibly preserve the SBIR and STTR programs.
Can SBIR Reauthorization be Passed in the Waning Days of the 114th Congress?
In last month's issue we reported that SBIR reauthorization was virtually improbable in this congress. However, hard work continues on the Hill to try and pass some sort of reauthorization, or perhaps an extension of the programs in order to avoid a potential reauthorization debacle in what will be a heavily burdened new (115th) congress.
With the current government funding CR expiring December 9, 2016, the republicans want to do another short term CR taking us through March 31, 2017 (at current funding levels) rather than an "omnibus" appropriation, (which could set new spending levels) for the remainder of FY-2017. This means the 115th congress will have to face doing a remaining FY-2017 budget prior to March 31, 2017 as well as a new budget for FY-2018 prior to September 30, 2017. That's a tall order.
Those challenges, along with a new administration, make a comprehensive SBIR/STTR reauthorization highly unlikely in the new congress prior to the expiration date of September 30, 2017. This is why we are seeing the movement to get some type of reasonable reauthorization/extension passed in the lame duck session of the 114th.
A legislative vehicle is required, and perhaps the best bet is the 2017 NDAA which is still in the hands of the conference committee. A stand alone clean SBIR bill is possible but not likely judging from legislative history.
The bottom line is that in order to get this done quickly and without controversy, very few changes to the programs can be made. We'll keep you informed.
DoD Preparing to Issue its FY2017 SBIR and STTR BAAs
Keeping in line with its decision in August to migrate from "Solicitations" to "Broad Agency Announcements" (BAA), the DoD will issue its 2017.1 SBIR BAA, and its 2017.A STTR BAA on November 30, 2016. They will keep the same format of Pre-Release period where you can contact the topic author (TPOC), usually about 30 days, but increased in this offering to 41 days due to the holidays, then the official opening (no more TPOC contact) on January 10, 2017 and a closing date of February 8, 2017.
There have been some organizational changes at the DoD's Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) who, in addition to other small business programs, facilitates the SBIR/STTR BAA. Gary Motsek is now the Acting Director of the DoD OSBP replacing Kenyata Wesley who has moved to other duties. Mr. Motsek is a well seasoned veteran of DoD management and brings a great deal of experience to that position. So far we are hearing good things about his leadership. David Sikora continues his job at OSBP as the DoD SBIR Program Administrator.
Your Questions, Our Answers (even if we're wrong)!
Since the early days of the SBIR Insider we've had many people ask for a Q&A column, so we are going to experiment with a couple.
Q. Why did DoD move from Solicitations to BAAs?
A. It really has more to do with the DoD contracting process and the way the award is made. Technically I've been told that the term "Solicitation" is most often handled under FAR Part 15 which has some limitations that some (perhaps anal) contracting agents believe doesn't accommodate the contracting flexibility needed for SBIR agreements.
The term BAA is generally handled by FAR Part 35 which can apply to the acquisition of research, which has more SBIR flexibility. The SBIR "Solicitations" have always been considered under FAR 35 but some contracting agents claim otherwise (FAR 15) which slows down or undermines the process.
The bottom line on the word "flexibility," is really more related to SBIR Data Rights, which some "feds" hate!
Q. What do you have against NSF?
A. I didn't know I had anything "against" NSF. They are a great and needed organization. However, that doesn't mean I like everything they do. Much of what you hear in the Insider comes from SBIR experiences my readers pass on.
When an agency employs so many unique restrictions as does NSF, one must try to understand why. When a company wants to submit proposals to a large NSF solicitation, but NSF says "Choose Only One," what's the point? One company who asked them that question was allegedly told it was because NSF wants you to concentrate on that submission.
In SBIR we have many companies with a large number of employees (anywhere from 25 to greater than 400). Can't they concentrate on more than one project? Also some of our smaller businesses are totally capable of more than one concurrent project, or making more than one proposal with the hopes that one of them will win.
So there are a host of questions I have from small businesses about the restrictions of NSF, and I'd welcome talking to them about it, and conducting a non-gotcha dialog interview. I have to tell you, some well known and respected SBIR support organizations tell small businesses to not to even bother submitting to NSF because of the unlikelihood of success.
The Tibbetts Awards nominations period closed November 14, 2016. Award notifications should be sent to the winners via e-mail in early December, 2016.
The SBA is planning a Tibbetts Award ceremony in Washington DC sometime in January 2017. We'll have coverage for you.
Next month we'll give you a rundown on the SBIR/STTR Summit in Austin, the selection of SBIR Person of the Year, and any updates on SBIR legislation. Also I hope to have some exciting information for you concerning restarting the Zyn SBIR Gateway (zynsys.com).
I had no idea who was purchasing my Zyn.com domain, but the brokers offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. The company was a Swedish concern and it helped me do my part to offset the balance of trade… (no it wasn't that much..) All you'll have to do is add three letters to zyn and it will be zynsys.com. Zyn Systems remains unchanged.
It's a funny thing, this election we just had. Nothing is for certain and we'll have to see what shakes out and how it will affect us. My 5 year old granddaughter told me that her kindergarten class voted for Hillary (of course, she lives in Seattle) but she wanted to give Trump a chance. I was proud of her! At her age I was a Truman fan…(still am…)
Just to add to your day (no I'm not a political party person), I offer this experience (for fun) in response to the Stein led recounts:
Back in 2004 in our race for Washington State Governor, Dino Rossi (R) ran against Christine Gregoire (D) in what became an insanely close election, Rossi won. In an obvious recount, Rossi won the recount. Then another recount was called for and mysteriously in the third count of the ballots, some extra ballots were "discovered" in King Country (Seattle), and Gregoire won that. The Republicans filed suit contesting the election and a trial judge ruled against the Republicans. Gregoire went on to serve two terms as governor.
This is the election that just keeps on giving…..
This and back Issues of the SBIR Insider are available at www.zynsys.com/sbir/insider
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