NASA SBIR/STTR 2018 Program Solicitation Details | 4. Method of Selection and Evaluation Criteria

4. Method of Selection and Evaluation Criteria

4.1 Access to Proprietary Data by Non-NASA Personnel

4.1.1 Non-NASA Reviewers 

In addition to government personnel, NASA, at its discretion and in accordance with 1815.207-71 of the NASA FAR Supplement, may utilize individuals from outside the government with highly specialized expertise not found in the government in the proposal review process. Any decision to obtain an outside evaluation shall take into consideration requirements for the avoidance of organizational or personal conflicts of interest and the competitive relationship, if any, between the prospective contractor or subcontractor(s) and the prospective outside evaluator. Any such evaluation will be under agreement with the evaluator that the information (data) contained in the proposal will be used only for evaluation purposes and will not be further disclosed. Such requests for non-NASA Reviewers must be approved by the NASA SBIR/STTR Program Manager.

4.1.2 Non-NASA Access to Confidential Business Information

In the conduct of proposal processing and potential contract administration, the agency may find it necessary to provide proposal access to other NASA contractor and subcontractor personnel. NASA will provide access to such data only under contracts that contain an appropriate NFS 1852.237-72 Access to Sensitive Information clause that requires the contractors to fully protect the information from unauthorized use or disclosure.

4.2 Phase I Proposals

All proposals will be evaluated and ranked on a competitive basis. Proposals will be initially screened to determine responsiveness. Proposals determined to be responsive to the administrative requirements of this Solicitation and having a reasonable potential of addressing a NASA interest, as evidenced by the technical abstract included in the Proposal Summary form, will be technically evaluated by NASA personnel to determine the most promising technical and scientific approaches. Each proposal will be reviewed on its own merit. NASA is under no obligation to fund any proposal or any specific number of proposals in a given topic. It also may elect to fund several or none of the proposed approaches to the same topic or subtopic.

4.2.1 Evaluation Process

Proposals shall provide all information needed for complete evaluation. Evaluators will not seek additional information. NASA scientists and engineers will perform evaluations. Also, qualified experts outside of NASA (including industry, academia and other government agencies) may assist in performing evaluations as required to determine or verify the merit of a proposal. Offerors should not assume that evaluators are acquainted with the firm, key individuals, or with any experiments or other information. Any pertinent references or publications should be noted in Part 5 of the technical proposal.

4.2.2 Phase I Evaluation Criteria 

NASA intends to select for award those proposals that offer the most advantageous research and development, deliver technological innovation that contribute to NASA’s missions, provide societal benefit and grow the US economy. NASA will give primary consideration to the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of the proposal and its benefit to NASA interests. Each proposal will be evaluated and scored on its own merits using the factors described below:

Factor 1: Scientific/Technical Merit and Feasibility

The proposed R/R&D effort will be evaluated on whether it offers a clearly innovative and feasible technical approach to the described NASA problem area. Proposals must clearly demonstrate relevance to the subtopic as well as one or more NASA mission and/or programmatic needs. Specific objectives, approaches and plans for developing and verifying the innovation must demonstrate a clear understanding of the problem and the current state of the art. The degree of understanding and significance of the risks involved in the proposed innovation must be presented.

Factor 2: Experience, Qualifications and Facilities 

The technical capabilities and experience of the PI, project manager, key personnel, staff, consultants and subcontractors, if any, are evaluated for consistency with the research effort and their degree of commitment and availability. The necessary instrumentation or facilities required must be shown to be adequate and any reliance on external sources, such as government furnished equipment or facilities, addressed (section 3.3.4, part 8).

Factor 3: Effectiveness of the Proposed Work Plan

The work plan will be reviewed for its comprehensiveness, effective use of available resources, labor distribution and the proposed schedule for meeting the Phase I objectives. The methods planned to achieve each objective or task should be discussed in detail. Please see Factor 5 for price evaluation criteria.

STTR: The clear delineation of responsibilities of the SBC and RI for the success of the proposed cooperative R/R&D effort will be evaluated. The offeror must demonstrate the ability to organize for effective conversion of intellectual property into products and services of value to NASA and the commercial marketplace.

Factor 4: Commercial Potential and Feasibility

The proposal will be evaluated for the commercial potential and feasibility of the proposed innovation and associated products and services for NASA mission programs, other government agencies and non-government markets. The offeror’s experience and record in technology commercialization, co-funding commitments from private or non-SBIR/non-STTR funding sources, existing and projected commitments for Phase III funding, investment, sales, licensing, and other indicators of commercial potential and feasibility will be considered along with the initial commercialization strategy for the innovation.

Factor 5: Price Reasonableness

The offeror’s cost proposal will be evaluated for price reasonableness based on the information provided in the Proposal Budget form. NASA will comply with the FAR and NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) to evaluate the proposed price/cost to be fair and reasonable. 

The Contracting Officer shall submit a recommendation for award to the Source Selection Official after completion of evaluation for price reasonableness and determination of responsibility.

Scoring of Factors and Weighting

Factors 1, 2 and 3 will be scored numerically with Factor 1 worth 50 percent and Factors 2 and 3 each worth 25 percent. The sum of the scores for Factors 1, 2 and 3 will comprise the Technical Merit score. The evaluation for Factor 4, Commercial Potential and Feasibility, will be in the form of an adjectival rating (Excellent, Very Good, Average, Below Average, Poor). For Phase I proposals, Technical Merit is more important than Commercial Merit. Factors 1 - 4 will be evaluated and used in the selection of proposals for negotiation. Factor 5 will be evaluated and used in the award decision, i.e., NASA will only make award when the price is fair and reasonable.

4.2.3 Prioritization

In prioritizing proposals recommended for negotiations NASA will also consider other factors including recommendations from the centers and mission directorates regarding such things as overall NASA priorities, program balance and available funding.

4.2.4 Selection 

Proposals recommended for negotiations will be forwarded to the Program Management Office for analysis and presented to the Source Selection Official and Mission Directorate Representatives. The Source Selection Official has the final authority for choosing the specific proposals for contract negotiation. Each proposal selected for negotiation will be evaluated for cost/price reasonableness, the terms and conditions of the contract will be negotiated and a responsibility determination made. The Contracting Officer will advise the Source Selection Official on matters pertaining to cost reasonableness, responsibility and known past performance issues.

The list of proposals selected for negotiation will be posted on the NASA SBIR/STTR website (http://sbir.nasa.gov). All firms will receive a formal notification letter.  A Contracting Officer will negotiate an appropriate contract to be signed by both parties before work begins.

4.3 I-Corps

For awardees invited to submit an I-Corps proposal pursuant to section 3.3.6.2, NASA will provide a programmatic assessment of firms and their technologies to include:

  • Number of previous SBIR/STTR awards received by the firm and the firm’s commercialization success rate.
  • Potential for commercialization of the selected Phase I research/solution to non-NASA markets (distinct from integration/transition into NASA programs).
  • Technical relevance to NASA.

Based on these assessments, certain offerors will be selected to participate in phone interviews conducted by the NASA SBIR/STTR PMO and the NSF-provided I-Corps instructors.  NASA will use these interviews to determine the dynamics of the teams and gauge their level of commitment to meeting requirements for I-Corps to make the final selection.  NASA will make the final selections for I-Corps based upon its initial assessments of the I-Corps proposals and the assessments of the phone interviews.

NASA anticipates a total of approximately 35 SBIR/STTR firms will be selected for participation in I-Corps for Phase I.

4.4 Phase II Proposals

All Phase II proposals will be evaluated and ranked on a competitive basis. Proposals will be initially screened to determine responsiveness. Proposals determined to be responsive to the administrative requirements of this solicitation and having a reasonable potential of meeting a NASA need, as evidenced by the technical abstract included in the Proposal Summary form, will be technically evaluated by NASA personnel to determine the most promising technical and scientific approaches. Each proposal will be reviewed on its own merit. NASA is under no obligation to fund any proposal or any specific number of proposals in a given topic. It also may elect to fund several or none of the proposed approaches to the same topic or subtopic.

4.4.1 Evaluation Process 

The Phase II evaluation process is similar to the Phase I process. Each proposal will be reviewed by NASA scientists and engineers and by qualified experts outside of NASA as needed. In addition, the proposals will be reviewed for commercial merit. NASA may use a peer review panel to evaluate commercial merit. Panel membership may include non-NASA personnel with expertise in business development and technology commercialization.

4.4.2 Phase II Evaluation Criteria 

NASA intends to select for award those proposals that offer the most advantageous research and development, deliver technological innovation that contributes to NASA’s missions, provides societal benefit and grows the US economy. NASA will give primary consideration to the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of the proposal and its benefit to NASA interests. Each proposal will be evaluated and scored on its own merits using the factors described below:

Note: Past performance will not be a separate evaluation factor but will be evaluated under Factors 1 (with respect to performance in Phase I) and 4 (with respect to commercialization past performance, as applicable) below.

Factor 1: Scientific/Technical Merit and Feasibility

The proposed R/R&D effort will be evaluated on its originality, the feasibility of the innovation and potential technical value. In addition, past performance of Phase I will be evaluated to determine the degree to which Phase I objectives were met, and whether the Phase I results indicate a Phase II project is appropriate.  The evaluators may review the Phase I final technical report to verify the Phase I results.

Factor 2: Experience, Qualifications and Facilities 

The technical capabilities and experience of the PI or project manager, key personnel, staff, consultants and subcontractors, if any, are evaluated for consistency with the research effort and their degree of commitment and availability. The necessary instrumentation or facilities required must show to be adequate and any reliance on external sources, such as government furnished equipment or facilities, addressed (section 3.4.4, Part 8).

Factor 3: Effectiveness of the Proposed Work Plan

The work plan will be reviewed for its comprehensiveness, effective use of available resources, labor distribution and the proposed schedule for meeting the Phase II objectives. The methods planned to achieve each objective or task should be discussed in detail. The proposed path beyond Phase II for further development and infusion into a NASA mission or program will also be reviewed. Please see Factor 5 for price evaluation criteria.

STTR: The clear delineation of responsibilities of the SBC and RI for the success of the proposed cooperative R/R&D effort will be evaluated. The offeror must demonstrate the ability to organize for effective conversion of intellectual property into products and services of value to NASA and the commercial marketplace.

Factor 4: Commercial Potential and Feasibility

The proposal and Commercial Metrics Survey will be evaluated for the commercial potential and feasibility of the proposed innovation and associated products and services. The offeror’s experience and record in technology commercialization; current funding commitments from private or non-SBIR funding sources; existing and projected commitments for Phase III funding, investment, sales, licensing, and other indicators of commercial potential and feasibility will be considered along with the commercialization plan for the innovation. Evaluation of the commercialization plan and the overall proposal will include consideration of the following areas:

  1. Commercial Potential and Feasibility of the Innovation: This includes assessment of (a) the transition of the innovation into a well-defined product or service; (b) a realistic target market niche; (c) a product or service that has strong potential for meeting a well-defined need within the target market and (d) a commitment of necessary financial, physical and/or personnel resources.
  2. Intent and Commitment of the Offeror: This includes assessing the commercialization of the innovation for (a) importance to the offeror’s current business and strategic planning; (b) reliance on (or lack thereof) government markets and (c) adequacy of funding sources necessary to bring technology to identified market.
  3. Capability of the Offeror to Realize Commercialization: This includes assessment of (a) the offeror’s past performance, experience and success in technology commercialization; (b) the likelihood that the offeror will be able to obtain the remaining necessary financial, technical and personnel-related resources; and (c) the current strength and continued financial viability of the offeror.            

Factor 5: Price Reasonableness

The offeror’s cost proposal will be evaluated for price reasonableness based on the information provided in the Proposal Budget form. NASA will comply with the FAR and NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) to evaluate the proposed price/cost to be fair and reasonable. 

The Contracting Officer shall submit a recommendation for award to the Source Selection Official after completion of evaluation for price reasonableness and determination of responsibility.

Scoring of Factors and Weighting

Factors 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be scored numerically with Factor 1 worth 45 percent, Factors 2 and 3 each worth 25 percent and Factor 4 worth five percent. The sum of the scores for Factors 1, 2, 3 and 4 will comprise the Technical Merit score. Factors 1 - 4 will be evaluated and used in the selection of proposals for negotiation. Factor 5 will be evaluated as part of the award decision, i.e., NASA will only make award when the price is fair and reasonable.

4.4.3 Prioritization

In prioritizing proposals recommended for negotiations NASA will also consider other factors including recommendations from the centers and mission directorates regarding such things as overall NASA priorities, program balance and available funding.

4.4.4 Selection 

Proposals recommended for negotiations will be forwarded to the Program Management Office for analysis and presented to the Source Selection Official and Mission Directorate Representatives. The Source Selection Official has the final authority for choosing the specific proposals for contract negotiation. Each proposal selected for negotiation will be evaluated for cost/price reasonableness. After completion of evaluation for cost/price reasonableness and a determination of responsibility the Contracting Officer will submit a recommendation for award to the Source Selection Official.

The list of proposals selected for negotiation will be posted on the NASA SBIR/STTR website (http://sbir.nasa.gov). All firms will receive a formal notification letter. A Contracting Officer will negotiate an appropriate contract to be signed by both parties before work begins.

4.5 Debriefing of Unsuccessful Offerors

After Phase I and Phase II selections for negotiation have been announced, debriefings for unsuccessful proposals will be available to the offeror's corporate official or designee via email. Written debriefings will be sent only to the Business Official designated in the proposal. Telephone requests for debriefings will not be accepted. Debriefings are not opportunities to reopen selection decisions. Debriefings will not disclose the identity of the proposal evaluators, proposal scores, the content of, or comparisons with other proposals. The debriefing process for Phase I and Phase II proposals are described below.

4.5.1 Phase I Debriefings

Debriefings will be automatically emailed to the designated Business Official within 60 days of the announcement of selection for negotiation. If you have not received your debriefing by this time, contact the SBIR/STTR Program Support Office at ARC-SBIR-PMO@mail.nasa.gov.

4.5.2 Phase II Debriefings

For Phase II, offerors must send a debriefing request via email to the SBIR/STTR Program Office at ARC-SBIR-PMO@mail.nasa.gov within 60 days after the selection announcement. Late requests will not be honored.