Dear SBIR Insider,
Welcome to 2012. As we return from the "Holidaze," we have to pinch ourselves to see if SBIR reauthorization was last year's dream or reality. I can assure you it is reality.
This will not be "business as usual." There is still much to do, as the legislation has made many changes to the program that will affect everyone, including small businesses, primes, universities, federal agencies, federal labs, state & local governments. Clarification, education and guidance are important components in participating in the soon-to-be-updated SBIR and STTR programs.
You will be hearing from many sources (including us) about the changes to SBIR and STTR as described in the new law. The problem is that law is complicated and often interpreted differently by various sources and interests (including the agencies).
For this reason, your SBIR Insider has been studying the SBIR law carefully and soliciting opinions from experts as to their view of the meaning/intent of the 41 sections contained in the SBIR reauthorization language. We will have a comprehensive report for you in the near future, hopefully next week. In the mean time you will probably hear some other's views of the legislation, and I encourage you to read them, especially from sources you know and trust.
The agencies are also studying the statutes to determine what changes they need to make. Don't expect compliance to be like an "instant on" button, it won't. It will take time to get up to speed, and as for conformity (interpreting what/how the new changes are to be incorporated and followed), there's good news. It's called the SBIR and STTR Policy Directives.
In this issue:
The SBA's SBIR & STTR Policy Directives
Basically the SBIR Reauthorization, which is incorporated in a portion (Division E) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, modifies 15 U.S.C. 638 (the codification of SBIR law). In addition to spelling out the statutory mandates of the program(s), this law gives the SBA statutory authority to create and promulgate SBIR and STTR policy directives (PD).
In essence the PDs serve as guidance, in plain English for all of us, especially federal government personnel who are involved in the administration of the SBIR Program, issuance and management of funding agreements or contracts pursuant to the SBIR Program, and the establishment of goals for small business concerns in research or research and development acquisition or grants.
Federal agencies participating in the SBIR and STTR Programs are obligated to follow the guidance provided by these policy directives. By law the SBA is to issue updated SBIR and STTR policy directives no later than June 29, 2012 for most of the programs, and by April 30, 2012 for guidance on the eligibility/ownership issues.
The policy directives are not to be created in a vacuum, and the SBA should be somewhat malleable in working with the agencies, the Hill, small businesses and other stakeholders. The current PDs need major changes, and this will be a challenge to the SBA because a decade ago when the last PD was done, the SBA actually had more resources in the Office of Technology (that was responsible for the program).
Before the SBA can implement the PD, they must publish a proposed PD in the Federal Register and open for public comment (usually 30 days). In the last major SBIR PD in 2002, they gave 30 days, then closed with very few comments because small businesses were not aware. The SBA Office of Technology assistant administrator, Maurice (damn the torpedoes) Swinton, managed to get the comment period reopened for an additional 30 days which resulted in more and better representation. Many of the comments were considered in the final Policy Directive.
The Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) wants to make sure the small business community's input is stronger and more substantive than ever before. They are in the planning stage of setting up committees (by topic and agency) to provide input to the SBA and the agencies working with them. You will not have to be a member of SBTC to participate, but they could use your support. We will keep you informed on how you can participate in this SBTC project.
Back in the day (about 10 years ago), your SBIR Insider helped with info on the 2002 PD, and we created an ugly little page that even today, is the most used reference tool for the current SBIR PD. Take a look on our SBIR Gateway at www.zyn.com/sbir/sbres/sba-pd/ and you'll get a better idea of the SBA's SBIR PD and its process. It also includes some PD discussion topics relevant to that PD.
2011 SBIR Person of the Year – Senator Mary Landrieu
Every year an SBIR Person of the Year is selected by the SBIR Insider publication (see www.zyn.com/sbir/insider) in consultation with many SBIR insiders behind the scenes. The selection is usually a difficult process, but no so for 2011.
Many people have played important roles in the sustainment and growth of the SBIR and STTR programs. However, one person stood out above the rest in 2011. That person is Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE).
Not since the early days of the creation of SBIR has one Senator or Congressman invested so much of themselves and their staff in saving the SBIR and STTR programs. Senator Landrieu's actions successfully concluded the most protracted and hard fought SBIR reauthorization in the history of the program.
Jere Glover, executive director of SBTC, and a man who has been in the SBIR trenches from the beginning said: "There has never been a Senator that has done more for the SBIR community, and spent more personal time and personal involvement than Senator Landrieu."
The chronology of Senator Landrieu's actions in fighting for your SBIR program in 2011 is incredible, and seems surreal, but your SBIR Insider can attest it is real.
Please view the full story at www.zyn.com/sbir/articles/11poy.htm You'll be glad you did.
Congratulations to Senator Mary Landrieu, the 2011 SBIR Person of the Year!