Time to Award Can Vary Widely by Agency

The SBIR and STTR policy directive recommends that most agencies issue awards no more than 180 calendar days from solicitation close.

The federal General Accounting Office (GAO) recently presented a report on the timeliness of agencies’ SBIR and STTR proposal review and award issuance. This report examines the time agencies spend issuing SBIR and STTR awards and the factors that affect the time spent, among other things. Within the 11 agencies, GAO reviewed 28 component agencies that participate in these programs. GAO analyzed agency-provided award data from fiscal years 2016 to 2018 for 15,453 awards and interviewed officials from the Small Business Administration and 26 of the component agencies.

SSTI presented a list of those SBIR/STTR programs with the highest performance records regarding percentage of notification times within 180 days:

  • 100 percent – Homeland Security: Science & Technology Directorate
  • 100 – Homeland Security: Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
  • 100 – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • 99.8 – National Science Foundation
  • 99 – Defense Health Agency
  • 98 – NASA
  • 98 – National Institute of Standards & Technology
  • 98 – National Institutes of Health (has its own 15-month requirement for notification instead of 180 days. This is average for all of the institutes)
  • 96 – Defense: Special Operations Command
  • 96 – Defense: Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense

Agency officials described a number of factors that can affect award issuance timelines, including:

  • Some agencies use cost reimbursement contracts, which require additional agency review under federal acquisition regulations.
  • Some contracting officers have limited expertise in issuing SBIR and STTR awards and their overall workloads can be heavy.
  • Small businesses may be slow to respond to agency requests for information, such as requests for information needed to meet government contracting requirements.

The full report is available at: https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/701754.pdf

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