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  • The DHS S&T SBIR Portal website will be undergoing scheduled maintenance and will not be available on the following dates and times:
    • 11:00 PM Saturday, March 23, 2019 EDT - 11:00 AM, Sunday, March 24, 2019 EDT
    We apologize for any inconvenience. If you need assistance, please contact the help desk at dhssbir@reisystems.com.

For Portal Registration and Submissions Training Guide, click here .
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

SBIR Program

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What is the SBIR Program?

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a set-aside program of an agency's extramural budget for domestic small business concerns to engage in Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. The SBIR Program was established under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-219), and reauthorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R. 1540) signed into law on December 31, 2011 (Public Law 112-81). The SBIR Program (and its sister STTR Program) was reauthorized through September 30, 2017. Further details on overall SBIR program can be found at https://www.sbir.gov/about/about-sbir#sbir-program.

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Are small businesses that are owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms eligible for SBIR awards?

One of the major changes that resulted from the SBIR Reauthorization Act of 2011 was that small businesses owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms may be eligible for SBIR awards. SBA's regulations of 13 CFR part 121 sets forth the eligibility criteria for SBIR applicants that are owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms. Please note that SBIR agencies must submit a written determination (to the SBA, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the House Committee on Small Business, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology) at least 30 calendar days before it begins making awards to SBCs that are owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms. At the current time, DHS is considering this change. Currently, such firms are not eligible to submit proposals to the DHS S&T Directorate SBIR solicitations.

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What percentage of an agency's extramural research or research and development (R/R&D) budget is set-aside for the SBIR Program?

1) Not less than 2.5 percent of such budget in each of fiscal years 1997 through 2011;
2) Not less than 2.6 percent of such budget in fiscal year 2012;
3) Not less than 2.7% of such budget in fiscal year 2013;
4) Not less than 2.8% of such budget in fiscal year 2014;
5) Not less than 2.9% of such budget in fiscal year 2015;
6) Not less than 3.0% of such budget in fiscal year 2016; and
7) Not less than 3.2% of such budget in fiscal year 2017 and each fiscal year after.

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Where can I find the latest SBIR Policy Directive?

The Small Business Administration maintains a site, SBIR.Gov, that provides information on a number of SBIR related topics. The Policy Directive can be found at https://www.sbir.gov/about/about-sbir#sbir-policy-directive.

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What is the statutory purpose of the SBIR Program and what are the objectives of the SBIR Program?

The statutory purpose of the SBIR Program is to strengthen the role of innovative small business concerns (SBCs) in Federally-funded research or research and development (R/R&D). Specific program objectives are to:

  • stimulate technological innovation;
  • use small business to meet Federal R/R&D needs;
  • foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses (SDBs), and by women-owned small businesses (WOSBs), in technological innovation; and
  • increase private sector commercialization of innovations developed through Federal R/R&D, thereby increasing competition, productivity and economic growth.

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What is the structure of the SBIR Program?

The SBIR Program is a phased process, uniform throughout the Federal Government and is structured in three phases.

Phase I. The objective of Phase I is to: (1) determine, insofar as possible, the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of ideas that appear to have commercialization potential; and (2) determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee with a relatively small agency investment before providing further Federal support in Phase II. Although the award level for an SBIR Phase I project may not exceed $150,000 for total costs (direct costs, F&A costs, and negotiated fee) for a period normally not to exceed six months for SBIR, agencies must request a waiver from the Small Business Administration to exceed the award guideline by more than 50% for a specific topic. Please note that the DHS S&T Directorate's SBIR Program sets its Phase I award level at $100,000, unless otherwise noted. Only Phase I awardees are eligible to participate in Phases II and III.

Phase II. The objective of Phase II is to further develop work from Phase I that meets particular program needs and exhibits potential for commercial application. Although Phase II efforts typically result with built and tested prototypes, Phase II awards may not necessarily complete the total research and development that may be required to satisfy commercial or Federal needs beyond the SBIR Program. Although the award level for an SBIR Phase II project may not exceed $1,000,000 total costs (direct costs, F&A costs, and negotiated fee) for a period normally not to exceed two years, agencies must request a waiver from the Small Business Administration to exceed the award guideline by more than 50% for a specific topic. Please note that the DHS S&T Directorate's SBIR Program sets its Phase II award level at $750,000. Under certain conditions, an additional $250,000 may be made available.

Phase III. The objective of Phase III, is for the small business concern to pursue, with non-SBIR funds, the commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR funding agreements. Phase III work is typically oriented towards commercialization of SBIR research or technology. In some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.

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Which Federal agencies participate in the SBIR Program?

Federal agencies with extramural research and development budgets over $100 million are required to administer SBIR programs providing its annual set-aside to small companies to conduct innovative research or research and development (R/R&D) that have potential for commercialization and public benefit.

Currently, eleven Federal agencies participate in the SBIR program. See https://www.sbir.gov/about/about-sbir#sbir-participating-agencie for a listing of the Federal agencies participating in the SBIR Program.

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What is the SBIR funding eligibility criteria?

To qualify for SBIR funding, businesses must meet certain eligibility criteria:

Type & Size of Firm

  • Be organized for-profit
  • Have not more than 500 employees, including affiliates

Ownership & Control

  • Be more than 50% directly owned and controlled by:
  1. One or more individuals (who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the U.S.),
  2. other business concerns (each of which is more than 50% directly owned and controlled by individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the U.S.),
  3. or any combination of these;

----OR----
  • Be more than 50% owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, or any combination of these (for agencies electing to use the authority in 15 U.S.C.638(dd)(1)) (The DHS S&T SBIR Program does not elect to use this authority.)

----OR----
  • Be a joint venture in which each entity to the joint venture meets the requirements in either of the cases above



Principal Investigator
  • Principal Investigator's primary employment must be with the small business at the time of award and during the project duration


Other
  • A minimum of two-thirds of the Phase I work and one-half of the Phase II work must be performed by the proposing firm (i.e., the small business concern); and
  • All work must be performed within the United States.

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Can an SBIR Phase I proposal be submitted to the DHS S&T Directorate with a total cost higher than the $150,000 Phase I dollar guideline?

No. Agencies must request a waiver from the Small Business Administration to exceed the award guideline by more than 50% for a specific topic. Please note that the DHS S&T SBIR Program limits its Phase I awards to $100,000 (unless a different amount is specified in the solicitation).

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Can an SBIR Phase II proposal be submitted to the DHS S&T Directorate with a total cost higher than the $1,000,000 Phase II dollar guideline?

No. Agencies must request a waiver from the Small Business Administration to exceed the award guideline by more than 50% for a specific topic. Please note that the DHS S&T SBIR Program limits its Phase II awards to $750,000. Under certain conditions, an additional $250,000 may be made available.

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What is the DHS S&T SBIR Program's Cost Match feature?

The DHS S&T SBIR Program has a Cost Match feature for Phase II SBIR projects that attract matching cash from an outside investor. The purpose is to focus SBIR funding on those projects that are most likely to be developed into viable new products that DHS and others will buy and that will thereby make a major contribution to homeland security and/or economic capabilities. For more information about the DHS S&T SBIR Program's cost match feature, please see the Cost Match Feature section.

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What is the DHS S&T SBIR Program's Jump Start to Phase II feature?

The Jump Start to Phase II feature was an invitation (at the discretion of the DHS S&T Program Manager) for Phase II proposal submission before the completion of Phase I. This feature was only for meritorious Phase I projects with clear potential for Phase II and was designed to decrease the funding gap between phases and to accelerate the development of the Phase I SBIR technology. The invitation was given no earlier than 2/3 of period of performance (i.e., not earlier than month four), and was used for solicitations issued through the FY12.2 solicitation. The Jump Start to Phase II feature was eliminated beginning with the FY13.1 solicitation, as P.L. 112-81 no longer permits an agency to use an invitation process for Phase II. That is, an agency may not use an invitation, pre-screening, or pre-selection process for eligibility for Phase II.

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Do you have to be a Phase I SBIR awardee in order to be considered for an SBIR Phase II award?

For agencies other than the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Education (ED), you have to be a Phase I SBIR awardee in order to be considered for an SBIR Phase II award. Please note however, that although P.L. 112-81 permits these agencies (NIH, DoD, and ED) to issue a Phase II award to a small business concern that did not receive a Phase I award for that R/R&D, these agencies may or may not do so. Be sure to check the solicitations/federal funding opportunity announcements issued by these agencies.

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What is the small business size standard for purposes of the SBIR Program?

A small business concern for purposes of award of any funding agreement under the SBIR Program is one which has not more than 500 employees, including its affiliates.

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Are foreign based firms eligible for SBIR Awards?

No. To be eligible for an SBIR award, a small business concern has to meet the following qualifications:

  • principal place of business is located in the United States; and
  • at least 51 percent owned or controlled by citizens of the United States.

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Are non-profit concerns eligible for SBIR awards?

No, but they may be subcontractors to the small business concern. SBIR awards are always made to the small business concern.

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May a portion of an SBIR award be subcontracted?

For Phase I, a minimum of two thirds of the research and/or analytical effort must be performed by the proposing small business concern; for Phase II, a minimum of one-half of the research and/or analytical effort must be performed by the proposing small business concern.

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What is the difference between a DHS S&T SBIR Program Solicitation and a DHS S&T Program Pre-Solicitation Announcement?

Pre-solicitation announcements are issued for fifteen days before the official solicitation is released. The pre-solicitation period provides the small business concern the opportunity to review the specific topics for which proposals are sought, and affords the small business concern the opportunity to contact the topic authors directly to further discuss the topic. Once the solicitation opens, there can be no direct contact with the topic authors. Questions of a technical nature must be submitted to the email listed in the solicitation.

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When are the DHS S&T SBIR Solicitations released? How can I obtain a copy?

DHS S&T SBIR solicitations are released up to two times each year, generally in November/December and sometimes in April/May of each year. Solicitations are posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov and linked on the DHS S&T SBIR website at https://sbir2.st.dhs.gov.

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How does the DHS S&T SBIR Program support the mission of DHS?

Solicitation topics are developed by Program Managers in each of the Science and Technology (S&T) Divisions within the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) and the First Responder Group. The HSARPA technical divisions include: Borders and Maritime Security; Chemical/Biological Defense; Cyber Security; and Explosives. Similar to the R&D programs of the S&T Directorate, the SBIR topics generally address the needs of the seven DHS Operational Units, i.e., U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Secret Service, as well as the needs of First Responders.

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Does the DHS S&T SBIR Program accept unsolicited proposals?

No. Proposals are accepted only in response to topics published in the current solicitation.

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What organizations within DHS participate with an SBIR Program?

Two research and development organizations within DHS participate in the SBIR Program: the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). Information about the S&T Directorate's SBIR Program can be found at https://sbir2.st.dhs.gov. Questions may be submitted to stsbir.program@hq.dhs.gov. General inquiries about DNDO's SBIR Program may be submitted to dndo.sbir@hq.dhs.gov.

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Website Helpdesk

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Is a tutorial available on how to register and submit a proposal?

A training guide that provides step-by-step detailed instructions for registering your company and for submitting a proposal is available. Click here to review the guide.

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How can I revise my proposal submission?

If you have not yet submitted your proposal, you may log in to the Public Portal and edit the components of your proposal at any time. If you have already submitted your proposal, you cannot make any changes. Contact the Help Desk if you have questions or need assistance.

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Why haven't I received my password reset email?

If you do not receive an email with a temporary password within 10 minutes, please check your Spam/Junk email folder. Otherwise contact the Help Desk for assistance.

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Was my submission successfully completed?

When you submit a proposal successfully, it will display on the Proposal Activity Worksheet page in the Proposals submitted or past due date section. You will also receive a confirmation e-mail noting your submission details.

Note: Completing the Proposal Upload portion of the proposal package does not constitute as a submission. You still need to click on the "Submit Proposal" link and then submit to finalize the whole proposal.

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Where do I find the most current solicitation information?

Solicitations are posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov, and simultaneously on the SBIR Public Portal at https://sbir2.st.dhs.gov.

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I don't remember my password. How can I reset it?

1. Go to the SBIR Public Portal at https://sbir2.st.dhs.gov.
2. Click the "Submissions" link.
3. On the login page, click the "Forgot your password?" link. The "Forgot Your Proposal Submission Password?" page displays.
4. In the Username field, enter your username.
5. Click the Continue button.
6. Your personal security question will display. Enter your answer.
7. Click the Continue button.
8. You will receive an e-mail containing your new password.

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What are the basic steps to submit a proposal?

1. Go to the SBIR Public Portal at https://sbir2.st.dhs.gov.
2. Register your organization and point of contact information.
3. Start a new proposal in response to a specific solicitation.
4. Complete the required components.
5. Submit the proposal.

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Why is my user account locked?

User accounts will lock after multiple failed login attempts, or if the account goes unused for an extended period of time. If your account locks, please contact the Help Desk.

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Why are only PDF file uploads allowed?

To reduce the size of document uploads and to ensure document compatibility, only PDF files are allowed.

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I've been awarded an SBIR contract. How can I upload my contract deliverables?

To use the portal to upload your contract deliverables, please follow the following steps:

  • Have your company point of contact go to https://sbir2.st.dhs.gov. From the main menu, click on the Awardee link in the left menu.
  • Log in to the system using the existing credentials used to submit the proposal (if you have them), or create a new user, if needed. Click "Add Contracts" from the left menu.
  • To begin, you must first add the awarded contract to your list of contracts. You only need to do this once and it will be saved to your contract list. Enter the Award/Contract Number and the Passcode (included in the notification email) in the fields on the page. Click "Submit".
  • To view your awarded contracts, click the "My Contracts" link. You will be presented with a list of your awards.
  • Click on the "Award/Contract Number" link. The "Submit Deliverable" page opens.
  • Identify the row containing the deliverable you desire to submit, and then click the "Submit" link. The "My Contracts > Submit Deliverable" page displays. Note: if you have already submitted a document for a specific deliverable, subsequent submissions will replace the current document.
  • The Award/Contract information displays at the top of the page. The Submission History (if any) displays beneath the award/contract information. Enter the information in the Deliverables Information section.
  • Click the "Submit Deliverables" button. A confirmation message displays. In addition, you will receive an email confirmation message.
  • Click the "Return to Deliverables Page" button.
  • The "My Contracts > Submit Deliverable" page displays, with the deliverable now available to view. Click the deliverable title to view it.
  • Your file is now available for review by your DHS Program Manager and Contract Officer.

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I received an error message indicating that I entered invalid characters in a free-text field. What am I doing wrong?

Due to security considerations, restrictions have been placed upon the use of special characters in completing forms on the website. Special characters are limited to simple punctuation marks only. This issue most often occurs in the Technical Abstract free-text field.

We recommend that you type your text directly into the free-text field. If you must "copy and paste" your text, copy from a basic text editor (not a word processing program) and paste it into the field.

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SBIR Fraud

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Have there been successful prosecutions of fraud in the federal SBIR Program?

Yes. New Era Technology (NETECH), M.L. Energia and Fractal Systems, Inc. were prosecuted for fraud. Please see http://oig.nasa.gov/press/pr2010-A.pdf (for New Era Technology), http://oig.nasa.gov/congressional/SBIR_Testimony.pdf (for M.L. Energia) and http://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/scientists-sentenced-prison-defrauding-small-business-innovation-research-program (Fractal Systems, Inc.)

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What types of fraud are found in the SBIR Program?

Fraud can take on many forms in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Fraud includes any false representation about a material fact or intentional deception designed to deprive the United States unlawfully of something of value or to secure from the United States a benefit, privilege, allowance, or consideration to which an individual or business is not entitled.

Examples of fraud, waste, and abuse relating to the SBIR Program include, but are not limited to:

  1. Misrepresentations or material, factual omissions to obtain, or otherwise receive funding under, an SBIR award;
  2. Misrepresentations of the use of funds expended, work done, results achieved, or compliance with program requirements under an SBIR award;
  3. Misuse or conversion of SBIR award funds, including any use of award funds while not in full compliance with SBIR Program requirements, or failure to pay taxes due on misused or converted SBIR award funds;
  4. Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in applying for, carrying out, or reporting results from an SBIR award;
  5. Failure to comply with applicable federal costs principles governing an award;
  6. Extravagant, careless, or needless spending;
  7. Self-dealing, such as making a sub-award to an entity in which the PI has a financial interest;
  8. Acceptance by agency personnel of bribes or gifts in exchange for grant or contract awards or other conflicts of interest that prevents the Government from getting the best value; and
  9. Lack of monitoring, or follow-up if questions arise, by agency personnel to ensure that awardee meets all required eligibility requirements, provides all required certifications, performs in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award, and performs all work proposed in the application.

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Which SBIR rules should you be particularly familiar with?

  • Duplicate or overlapping proposals may not be submitted to multiple agencies without full disclosure to all agencies.
  • The company must meet SBA's requirements for a small business, including being majority American owned and have 500 employees or fewer (including its affiliates).The PI's primary employment must be with the SBC at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed project.
  • The PI may not be employed full time with another organization.
  • For Phase I, a minimum of two thirds of the research effort must be performed by the awardee (i.e., small business); for Phase II, a minimum of one-half of the research effort must be performed by the awardee (i.e., small business). Work performed by a university research lab, subcontractor or consultant is NOT work completed by the awardee during the contract period.
  • University employees participating on an SBIR award should disclose their involvement to the university, as well as their use of university facilities.

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What if you break the rules?

If you commit fraud or other wrongdoing in applying for or carrying out a DHS SBIR award, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) will investigate. DHS OIG will refer violations of civil or criminal law to the Department of Justice (DOJ). If DOJ prosecutes you for fraud or false statements, you may be sentenced to prison and required to pay full restitution. If DOJ pursues a civil action under the False Claims Act, you may have to pay treble damages (three times the amount of the award) plus $11,000 for each false claim. In addition, DHS may terminate your awards and debar you from receiving grants or contracts from any federal agency.

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Who investigates SBIR Fraud?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with conducting objective audits, inspections and investigations, as well as preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in DHS programs. The Office of Investigations handles allegations of wrongdoing involving organizations or individuals that receive rewards from, conduct business with, or work for DHS.

DHS OIG investigates allegations in which DHS is the potential victim of fraud by employees, contractors, grantees or others. DHS OIG receives allegations from many sources, including: proposal reviewers, agency employees, the public and the OIG Hotline. DHS OIG also investigates allegations of research misconduct involving DHS proposals and awards.

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Whom should I contact to report suspected fraud, waste or abuse?

For any questions regarding your proposal or award, contact your DHS SBIR Program Manager.

To report suspected fraud, waste or abuse, contact:

  • DHS Office of the Inspector General
    Anonymous Hotline: 1-800-323-8603
    Fax: 202-254-4297
    Mail: DHS Office of Inspector General/ MAIL STOP 0305,
    Attention: Office of Investigations- Hotline
    245 Murray Drive SW
    Washington, DC 20528-0305
    ----OR----
  • Frank Barros
    DHS S&T SBIR Program Analyst
    francis.barros@hq.dhs.gov

You may also report a fraud, waste or abuse incident using the OIG referral form found at https://www.oig.dhs.gov/hotline/hotline.php.

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