selection, the evaluation of proposals, and selection of awards. The chapter then examines NASA’s commercialization effort that includes a detailed review of the regional dimension of NASA’s SBIR program. The chapter closes with an analysis of challenges for the future of SBIR at NASA, given the agency’s new organizational structure and mission focus. An annex to this chapter describes the SBIR program at each NASA center.


Guiding Principles

NASA has based the management of its SBIR program on the following four principles:

  • Aligning research topics to the highest technology priorities of the agency.

  • Focusing on program effectiveness as measured by Phase III commercialization.

  • Enhancing program efficiency by using advanced information technology.

  • Providing opportunity for a cross section of small U.S. business.2

Program Administration

The NASA SBIR program has varied over the years in terms of its degree of centralization. Currently, NASA’s SBIR program is managed at multiple levels.

  • Level 1—SBIR Program Executive (Headquarters; agency-wide).

  • Level 1—SBIR program Mission Directorate liaisons (Headquarters, Mission Directorates).

  • Level 2—SBIR Program and Procurement Policy Managers (agency wide).

  • Level 3—SBIR Field Center Program Managers (Centers).

  • Level 4—Contract Officer Technical Representative (COTR) (projects).

Level 1. Program Executive.3 Located at NASA Headquarters, and supported by a national office, the program executive focuses on overall program administration. Overall program policy, effectiveness, and assessment are the responsibility of the Headquarters Program Executive. The national office, located until recently at Goddard, has now moved to Ames.


NASA Program Management Web site, accessed at <>, July 2005.


The current program executive is Carl G. Ray. His title is Program Executive, Technology Infusion, Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office.

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