The Department of Defense (DoD) SBIR/STTR awards are all firm fixed price contracts. Contracting opportunities with the federal government follow a very specific and formal process, which is different from many other agencies that issue grants.
DoD releases its topics through Broad Agency Announcements (BAA). A BAA is defined as a “notice from the government that requests scientific or research proposals from private firms concerning certain areas of interest to the government.” DoD issues three BAAs a year for SBIR/STTR proposals.
Not all DoD components participate in each BAA and the availability of STTR (over SBIR) varies from component to component. Components include:
|Air Force (AF)||Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)|
|Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)||Missile Defense Agency (MDA)|
|Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD)||Special Operations Command (SOCOM)|
Each component offers very specific topics designed to solve a current (and often urgent) technical problem. There are three stages to a DoD BAA:
- Pre-release is a six-week period of time when topics are available and potential respondents can communicate directly with the DoD Technical Point of Contact (TPOC). You may wish to reach out to the TPOC to get clarification on the topic, learn more about its origin, and get feedback on if your proposed solution is an appropriate fit to meet the needs of the component.
- Once the solicitation officially opens, contact directly with the TPOC is strictly prohibited. This prevents one respondent from getting an unfair advantage over another, creating a fair and competitive bidding process.
- The submission closes six weeks after it opens. Proposals are submitted through an online proposal portal created by DoD. Once submitted, proposals are evaluated by an internal team of technical reviewers. There is no information available about the status of your proposal during the review process.
Notifications are made electronically and while you may request a summary of your review, it is not always provided.
Contact with the TPOC during Pre-Release is not required to submit a proposal (but is strongly recommended). DoD is a highly competitive program, with only a small handful of awardees chosen for each topic. While competition is steep, the reward can be significant. If your Phase I and Phase II are successfully, you may be positioning yourself for a single source supplier contract with DoD!
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