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An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Energy
Defense Programs area was exempted by law from SBIR), and (2) OER’s basic research culture was thought to be more aligned with what was thought to be the spirit of SBIR research—namely, high risk/high reward.
Trivelpiece designated Ryszard Gajewski to serve as the SBIR Program Manager in addition to his responsibilities as director of OER’s Advanced Energy Projects (AEP) Division. Gajewski formed an SBIR Advisory Panel to develop processes for implementing the legislation and to oversee the conduct of the program at DoE.2 The panel provided advice to its Chairman, the SBIR Program Manager, who was able to exert considerable influence. Many of its early decisions became policies that are still in effect today. Box 8-1 summarizes major events in the evolution of the program.
Today, the DoE SBIR Office is led by the SBIR Program Manager, appointed by the Director of the Office of Science. The management of DoE SBIR program is centralized along some dimensions, decentralized along others.
Centralization. Following guidance provided by the SBIR program manager, all participating technical programs adhere to a common schedule involving one competition per year, observe common procedures for the receipt and evaluation of grant applications, and follow the same guidelines with regard to scoring. The processing of proposals (officially, proposals are referred to as “grant applications” at DoE), including management of the review and selection processes, is administered by the SBIR office within the Office of Science.
Decentralization. The technical programs are responsible for generating technical topics for the annual solicitations, selecting reviewers for each proposal, scoring the proposals, and recommending proposals for funding. These procedures, which are overseen by the SBIR Program Manager, are performed by approximately 70 Technical Topic Managers (TTMs) and Technical Project Monitors (TPMs) located within the technical programs that participate in SBIR.
Each program at DoE that participates in SBIR proposes topics to be included in the annual solicitation. The quantity of funding allocated to technical challenges identified by that program directly determines the number of topics included.
By design, the share of topics for each program is about equal to its share of the overall DoE extramural research budget. The SBIR program manager assigns each program a proportional allotment of technical topics for the annual SBIR solicitation, as well as an allotment of both Phase I and Phase II awards,
The SBIR Advisory Panel was composed of one representative from each technical program that would contribute to the SBIR set-aside, plus representatives from general counsel, procurement, and budget. Typical representatives were working-level scientific program managers.