Box 8-1

Major Events in the Evolution of the DoE SBIR Program

1983DoE becomes the first agency to issue an SBIR solicitation with explicitly specified research topic areas. The first solicitation had 25 topics and attracted 1,734 proposals. However, the distribution was far from uniform. One topic received 342 proposals, others less than 10. DoE reacted by increasing its emphasis on topic editing, attempting to narrow some topics and broaden others.

1986Samuel Barish appointed SBIR Program Manager. From the beginning Dr. Gajewski was performing two functions (he was also AEP director) and delegated most day-to-day operations to Dr. Barish. This appointment largely formalized the status quo.

1988Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) begins. DoE was the first agency to initiate a program to assist awardees with the commercialization of SBIR technology. Five applicants responded to a solicitation, and the competition was won by Dawnbreaker, a small company in Rochester, NY. Dawnbreaker has provided these services to DoE SBIR awardees over the next 17 years, winning several more DoE competitions. Other agencies have since adopted such programs for their own SBIR awardees. DoE believes that DoE CAP helped drive the change in the law (P.L. 102-564) that allowed agencies to use funds from the SBIR set aside for such purposes.

1993STTR program implemented with first solicitation. With far fewer funds in STTR, DoE limited the number of technical topics, implementing a topic rotation among its technical programs.

1994Criteria for commercial potential added to evaluation of Phase II proposals. In order to increase the emphasis on commercialization, P.L. 102-564 required agencies to consider four additional criteria in the evaluation of Phase II proposals. DoE formally added these criteria to its scoring system.

1995SBIR Process Improvement Team recommends some significant changes. An SBIR Process Improvement Team (PIT) was established in response to two primary driving forces: (1) the by-now entrenched tension between the SBIR office and DoE’s technical programs and (2) the Office of Science initiative on Total Quality Management, pushed by its Director, Martha Krebs. The PIT, composed of five TTMs/TPMs and chaired by Robert Berger, SBIR Program Officer, was charged with developing strategies for streamlining the program and reducing tensions.

based on that program’s “contribution” to the SBIR budget.3 Once the allocation of technical topics is made by the SBIR staff, the technical program managers are free to assign topic responsibility among their own staff. Reasons for such


The allocation of SBIR funds in proportion to R&D “contributions” is an arrangement devised in recent years that has successfully countered previous “gaming” by technical topic managers (TTMs) and technical project monitor (TPMs) in the scoring of SBIR proposals.

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