NASA SBIR/STTR Program Solicitation Details | 4. Phase II Selection Process and Evaluation Criteria

4. Phase II Selection Process and Evaluation Criteria

4.1 Selection Process

All Phase II proposals will be evaluated on a competitive basis. Proposals will be initially screened to determine responsiveness using a two-stage review process:

  1. All proposal packages received by the published deadline will undergo an administrative review to determine if the proposal meets the requirements found in section 3, Proposal Preparation Instructions and Requirements. Proposals that are found to be noncompliant with the requirements in Section 3 will be eliminated from consideration. NASA will notify the offeror that their proposal has been eliminated and will provide the reason. 
  2. Proposals determined to be responsive to the administrative requirements will be evaluated.

Proposals passing this initial screening will be moved forward to be evaluated and ranked on a competitive basis.

Proposals shall provide all information needed for a complete evaluation. Evaluators will not seek additional information. Proposals will be technically evaluated by subject matter experts to determine the most promising technical and scientific approaches. The commercialization and business plan will be evaluated by a panel of 3rd party commercialization reviewers who are experts in determining commercial potential. 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 offeror, key individuals, or with any experiments or other information. Any pertinent references or publications should be noted in Part 5 of the technical proposal.

Each proposal will be evaluated on its own merit. NASA is under no obligation to fund any proposal or any specific number of proposals on a given topic. It also may elect to fund several or none of the proposed approaches to the same topic or subtopic.

4.1.1 Non-NASA Reviewers 

In addition to utilizing Government personnel in the review process, NASA, at its discretion and in accordance with NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) section 1815.207-71, may utilize individuals from outside the Government with highly specialized expertise not found in the Government. 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 package. Any decision to obtain an outside evaluation shall take into consideration requirements for the avoidance of organizational or personal conflicts of interest and any competitive relationship 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 complete proposal package will be used only for evaluation purposes and will not be further disclosed. 

4.1.2 Non-NASA Access to Confidential Business Information

In the conduct of processing proposal packages and potential contract administration, the Agency may find it necessary to provide access to the proposal package to other NASA contractors 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 and where the contractor has implemented the appropriate processes and procedures to protect the information.


4.2 Phase II Evaluation Criteria

NASA intends to select for award those proposals that offer the most advantageous R/R&D and deliver technological innovations that contribute to NASA’s missions, provide societal benefit, and grow the U.S. 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 using the factors described below:

Note: Past performance is not a separate evaluation factor but will be assessed under Factors 1 and 4 (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, their degree of commitment, and availability. The necessary instrumentation or facilities required must be shown to be adequate and reliance on external sources, such as Government-furnished equipment or facilities, must be 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.

Factor 4: Commercialization and Business Planning: The proposal will be evaluated for the commercial potential and feasibility of the proposed innovation and associated products and services as described in Part 7. Evaluation of the commercialization and business plan will include consideration of the following areas:

  1. Commercial Potential—Quantitative Market Analysis: This includes an assessment of
    1. The market segmentation and the commercial Total Addressable Market (TAM).
    2. The proposed innovation in terms of target customers (e.g., NASA, other Federal agencies, commercial enterprise).
    3. The competitive landscape, by identifying potential competitors.
  1. Commercial Intent—Value Proposition: This includes assessing
    1. The commercial development plan provides a development timeline to bring the innovation to market.
    2. The applicable business model (spin-out, license, OEM, etc.) the offeror would use to bring innovation to market.
    3. The risks to the commercial development plan and what mitigations, if any, can be taken over a reasonable period of time to lessen the risks.  
  1. Commercial Capability—Pro Forma Financial Projections: This includes an assessment of
    1. The current and future company capitalization efforts.
    2. As applicable, the description of the approach, path to market, and revenues from past commercialization(s) resulting from SBIR/STTR awards are disclosed in the CMS.
  1. Intellectual Property (IP): This includes the assessment of
    1. How the offeror will protect the IP that results from the innovation?
  1. Assistance and Mentoring: This includes assessment of
    1. The existing and future business relationships in terms of any formal partnerships, joint ventures, or licensing agreements with other companies/organizations.
    2. The plans for securing needed technical or business assistance through mentoring, partnering, or through arrangements with state assistance programs, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Federally funded research laboratories, Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers, Federal programs, or other assistance providers.
  1. Capital Commitments Addendum: This includes an assessment of
    1. Any letters of commitment describing follow-on funding, product sales, or matching funding to be provided for a future post-Phase II opportunity application.
    2. Letter of intent or evidence of negotiations to provide funding should the Phase II project be successful, and the market need still exists.
    3. A specific plan to secure Phase III funding.

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. 

Scoring and Weight of Factors, Ranking, and Programmatic Balancing

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 constitute the Technical Merit score. After ranking proposals using the Technical Merit score, the agency may consider additional programmatic balance factors such as portfolio balance across NASA programs, centers, and mission directorates, available funding, first-time awardees/participants, historically underrepresented communities, and geographic distribution, to recommend proposals to the Source Selection Official (SSO).

Factor 5 will be evaluated as part of the negotiation’s decision, i.e., NASA will only make an award when the price is fair and reasonable.


4.3 Selection

The SSO has the final authority for choosing the specific proposals for contract negotiation. In making such a selection determination, the SSO, at their discretion may also consider the additional programmatic balance factors such as portfolio balance across NASA programs, centers, and mission directorates, available funding, first-time awardees/participants, historically underrepresented communities, and geographic distribution.

After the SSO selection has been finalized, the list of proposals selected for negotiation will be posted on the NASA SBIR/STTR website ( All firms selected by the SSO will receive a formal notification letter. 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 negotiate and award an appropriate contract to be signed by both parties before work begins. The Government may request the offeror to submit certain organizational, management, personnel, and financial information to establish the responsibility of the offeror. Contractor responsibility includes all resources required for contractor performance (e.g., financial capability, workforce, and facilities).


4.4 Technical and Business Assistance (TABA)

NASA conducts a separate review of all requests for TABA after the SSO makes the final selection of projects to enter into negotiation for a Phase II contract. This process consists of the SBIR/STTR Program conducting the initial evaluation of the TABA request to determine if the request meets the requirements found in section 3.4.12 and the statute. The Contracting Officer makes the final determination to allow TABA funding to be used under the contract.

The review of Phase II TABA requests will include the following:

  • A review to determine if the awardee provided an adequate description of the specific services being requested.
  • A review of the vendor(s) expertise and knowledge of providing technical and business assistance services as described in the request and the vendor qualification statements.
    • A review of the vendor information including name, contact information, website, and company information including UEI to validate the ability of the vendor to provide services.
  • A review of the costs to be provided to the TABA vendor(s).
  • Proposed plans to submit the two required deliverables summarizing the outcome of the TABA services with expected supporting information.
  • Verification that TABA costs are reflected in the budget forms.


4.5 Intern Diversity Supplement (IDS) Program

NASA conducts a separate request for applications during the Phase II period of performance and then reviews all requests for IDS at that time. This process consists of the SBIR/STTR Program conducting the initial evaluation of the IDS request to determine merit with respect to the overall impact on diversity and entrepreneurship and if the request meets the requirements found in section 3.4.13. The SBIR/STTR Program makes the final determination to allow funding to be used and informs the Contracting Officer to issue the funding under the contract.

The review of Phase II IDS requests includes the following:

  • The description of how the internship will promote diversity in the small business and promote entrepreneurship opportunities for the intern.
  • The resume of the intern indicates career goals, prior research training, research potential, and any relevant experience.
  • The awardee indicates that the proposed experience will expand and foster the research and entrepreneurial capabilities, knowledge, and/or skills of the intern, that the activities of the intern will be an integral part of the project, and that the intern will receive research and entrepreneurial career mentoring.
  • The awardee provides a plan and timeline for the proposed research and career development experiences in the supplemental request and its relationship to the Phase II award.


4.6 Notification and Feedback to Unsuccessful Offerors

After Phase II selections for negotiation have been announced, a notification will be sent to the Small Business Official designated in the proposal according to the processes described below.

Note: Due to the competitive nature of the program and limited funding, recommendations to fund or not fund a proposal will be final. Applicants are encouraged to use the written feedback to understand the outcome of their proposal review and to develop plans to strengthen future proposals.

Unsuccessful Phase II offerors cannot resubmit their unsuccessful Phase II proposal to a future Phase II solicitation and if planning to apply for a new Phase I, the Phase I proposal must be different and cannot duplicate the prior Phase I work.

4.6.1 Phase II Feedback

For Phase II, NASA uses a two-stage process to notify offerors of the outcome of their proposal.

  1. At the time of the public selection announcement, the Small Business Official will receive an email indicating the outcome of the proposal.
  2. Per the requirements in the email notification and this solicitation, offerors must send a feedback request via email to the NASA SBIR/STTR Program Support Office at within 60 days after the selection announcement. Late requests will not be honored.