It's hard to believe that we are doing this again (and as many of you recall, we recently wrote on the push in Washington to make the SBIR/STTR Programs permanent), but the programs are once again up for reauthorization, and it's time for all contractors to get involved in the effort to keep these vital programs alive (before they are set to expire in 2017)!Read More
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The annual National SBIR/STTR Conference is schedule for June 16 thru 18 in the Washington DC area (National Harbor, MD). I think it is worth talking about here in the blog. this venue is an excellent chance for small businesses to learn more about the program and to enhance their chances for success in winning awards from the various agencies that participate.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 re-authorized the SBIR & STTR programs but also made some changes to the programs. The SBA published a preliminary Policy Directive on August 6th, 2012 and requested additional comments from Small Businesses. These comments were collected through October 5th, 2012. The Policy directive was updated based on these comments and authorized on December 26, 2013 and made effective on January 8, 2014. These directives now define how the laws passed in the Defense Authorization Act of 2012 will be implemented. What do these changes mean to small business? I wanted to summarize the changes here. ReliAscent will be releasing some Whitepapers on some of the more involved changes.
The SBIR & STTR programs provide for intellectual property rights to the small business awardee. The SBIR or STTR awardee is usually given IP rights in accordance with FAR 52.227-11. This clearly allows the awardee to keep the rights to the IP, provided they follow the guidelines of the FAR paragraph. This does allow the government access to the IP for their use if they so desire. What has been troubling in recent years, however, is that these rights appear to have been either ignored or abused when the Government reaches Phase III of the SBIR program. Now, officially the SBIR program does not fund the Phase III portion of the program. They can, however fund product development in this phase thru other contracting vehicles or with matching funds from industry.
The 2012 Defense Reauthorization Act also renewed the SBIR and STTR programs. There were certain elements of the Act that required the SBA to establish new policy in order to implement the portions of the new law. It took almost 9 months for the first draft of the new SBIR Policy Directive to be published on Aug. 6, 2012. After public comments were solicited and received by the SBA, the policy directive was finalized and made effective Jan. 8, 2014. There are some major changes that are worth noting including:
ReliAscent (and our predecessors) have been in the business of helping SBIR firms install and operate compliant accounting systems for over 22 years. As most SBIR firms are aware, a Phase I award is usually a fixed price type award and since the dollar volume is relatively low, a compliant accounting system is not required during the phase I award. For the past 22 years we have encouraged Phase I winners to begin developing their accounting system in anticipation of a Phase II award that would require a compliant accounting system. There is not a government requirement to do this and thus many companies understandably chose to ignore the compliant accounting system requirement until they got to that "bridge to cross".