Four Tips to Prepare for DoD’s New Solicitation
Tags: Dept. of Defense, DoD, Entrepreneur, federal funding, government contracts, grants, Proposal Preparation, SBIR, STTR, TPOC
The Dept. of Defense (DoD) will pre-release its SBIR 2016.2 and STTR 2016.B on April 22 when components participating in the solicitation will issue the topics for which they seek proposals. If you think your technology might have an application for a DoD component and topic, here are four things you should be thinking about right now to get you started on the right foot.
1. Get Registered! In order to submit by the June 22 deadline you must complete several registrations that can take 4 to 6 weeks to complete, so best get crackin’! Here are the registrations you need:
- EIN (Employer Identification Number), aka Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN). Apply here
- DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System), a unique 9-digit number issued by Dunn & Bradstreet (D&B) for each physical location of your business. Submit a request online.
- SAM (System for Award Management), a one-time registration with SAM is required. Register here
- SBIR.gov A registration with the SBA for a unique SBC Control ID that is required for submission. Register here
- sbir.defensebusiness.org Proposals are submitted electronically through the DoD SBIR/STTR Small Business Portal. Register as a user here.
Note: BBCetc clients receive a full list of instructions for each of the above registrations.
2. Select a Component and Topic Thirteen Components participate in the DoD SBIR/STTR programs, though not all participate in every solicitation. Importantly, DoD is a contract mechanism, so all topics are agency initiated. Thus, to be considered for DoD’s SBIR/STTR program, your technology must address one or more of the topics issued. The easiest way to identify topics of interest is to use the Topics Search Engine, rather than reading every topic in each Component’s section. Once you find a topic, return to the Current Solicitation page to read the component-specific instructions for that topic.
Since the topics for the next solicitation have yet to be released, now is a great time to learn what kinds topics have been issued and awarded in the past. Past topic searches will give you information about which Component(s) are interested in your specific topic. Using www.zyn.com for this past topic search is recommended because the name and contact information for the TPOC remains on past topic descriptions where it does not at DoD’s or at SBIR.gov. This gives you a contact person to discuss if there is current interest in your topic with that group–since the topic is no longer open, you can talk to the TPOC at any time without restriction. Searching for past awards for topics in your field can give you a good indication of what DoD has already funded in this area (important because you must demonstrate knowledge of state of the art and how your technology advances it). It will also help identify companies with alternative or competing technologies who you will want to delve into in more detail.
3. Plan on Talking to Your TPOC during the open period, which will be from April 22 to May 22. This is the only time you can talk directly and privately with the person who is most knowledgeable about a topic’s intent and is often its author. We can’t stress enough how critical this contact can be, so start thing about what you want to ask. It’s your chance to learn the parameters of the topic, ask technical questions, get clarification, and gauge whether and how well your technology meets the objective. Once the open period is over, you can post questions anonymously to the SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS) for technical clarification only, but your questions and responses will be public. Conversely, you can gain information by monitoring the questions/answers of others, but the answers will likely be nowhere near what you can glean from a one-on-one conversation.
Please take note that topics are sometimes altered, or even withdrawn, based on the questions received during the pre-solicitation, so be sure to double check the topics when the actual solicitation period begins. Contact information is included with the topic description in the pre-solicitation.
4. Be Forewarned: Read the Entire Solicitation and Follow the Rules! No matter how many times we say it there are still lots of you out there who do not read the full solicitation, which answers many questions and provides loads of pointers. So that’s step one, read the solicitation. Step two is follow the rules it sets out! For one thing, rules for page limits, margins, font sizes, headings, etc. are not suggestions, and failure follow those rules can result in rejection without consideration. On a larger scale, however, things like submitting a plagiarized proposal, providing false information about the company, the Principal Investigator or the work to be performed or seeking funding for work that has already been completed are examples of Waste, Fraud and Abuse and failure to follow those rules can result in jail. DoD makes a confidential Hotline available for the report of “violations of law, rule or regulation, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, and classified information leaks involving the Department of Defense…” Best advice: do as your mother told you, read and follow instructions and always tell the truth.
SBIR Pre-release Begins April 22, 2016
Talk to Your TPOC April 22-May 22
Solicitation Opens May 23, 2016 Solicitation
Closes June 22, 2016 at 6:00 a.m. ET
Check out BBCetc’s Pursuit Webinar Library for our DoD and other SBIR/STTR related topics.
Becky Aistrup is a Principal Consultant and BBCetc’s DoD expert.