Which CSR Study Section Should I Request to Review My NIH SBIR/STTR Proposal?
The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is the portal for NIH grant applications and their initial review for scientific merit. CSR organizes the peer review groups that evaluate the majority of these applications.
Recurring Special Emphasis Panels (SEPs) review SBIR/STTR applications, and the reviewers generally make a three-year commitment to be available for a Study Section. Accordingly, a panel in one cycle generally contains quite a few members from the previous cycle. A listing of the Study Sections for the previous three SBIR review cycles is available on CSR's website.
So how do you determine which Study Section is the best for you?
Get started by looking at the Study Section(s) roster and finding the one that seems most appropriate for your technology. Although the make-up of your panel will not be identical, there will be some overlap.
You will want to research the backgrounds and publications of the previous members and their affiliate organizations to provide some perspective on their expertise and how they might view your proposal.
Fraud, Waste and Abuse - Small Problem, Big Consequences
Over the past few years, there has been heightened attention on the topic of Fraud, Waste and Abuse in the SBIR and STTR programs. We last wrote about it in 2012 and thought a review might be helpful. Although the incidence of this type of activity is low - estimated to occur in less than 0.1% of SBIR awards - agencies are nonetheless required to have a strong focus in the area and provide the means for reporting such activity through telephone hotlines and web-based methods.
What constitutes waste, fraud and abuse? The Dept. of Energy's website has a
of the typical types of fraud in the SBIR/STTR program, both during the application process within the proposal itself and following award. Here are some of the key points:
Fraud during the application process:
- Submitting a plagiarized proposal
- Providing false information regarding the company, the Principal Investigator or the work to be performed
- Seeking funding for work that has already been completed
Fraud during the award:
- Using award funds for any use other than the proposed activities
- Submitting plagiarized reports or reports falsely claiming work has been completed
- Claiming results for an award that were funded by a different source
Here are some ways to avoid potential issues related to fraud:
- Disclose duplicate/overlapping proposals.
- If submitting multiple proposals, clearly state what is different.
- Makes sure you understand, meet and remain compliant with the SBIR eligibility requirements for small businesses
- Follow the project budget as awarded. Notify the agency, and request approval where appropriate, if changes are needed.
Per the SBA policy directive: failure to comply with federal cost principles governing an award is considered Waste, Fraud and Abuse.
- "But for the certifications you would not have gotten the award" (translation: be sure you understand and comply with all of the rules!)
Best advice: Do as your mother told you, read and follow instructions and always tell the truth.
ABCs of SBIR/STTR
Proposal Prep for DoD
RO1 vs SBIR: Not All Grants are Created Equal
How to Manage Your SBIR/STTR Grant or Contract
Proposal Prep for NIH
SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Workshop
How to Prepare a Budget for Your SBIR/STTR Proposal
May 11 - What You Should Know About Gov't Audits
May 18 - QuickBooks and Compliance for SBIR/STTR Recipients
Released June 5, 2016
Expires April 5
Dept. of Commerce- Natl Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
Closes March 30
Dept. of Defense
Pre-releases April 5; opens May 9; closes June 7