You’ve spent time writing what you think is a pretty decent proposal and now you are ready to submit it…or so you think. Have you thought about how will you submit it? Read the solicitation and read it early (see The Basics: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (Part 1)). Each agency is different. Does the agency require a paper or electronic submission? If paper submission, did you allow time for the physical delivery of your proposal? Have you obtained all necessary data elements and completed any necessary electronic registration processes?
IMPORTANT: Electronic registration and obtaining basic data elements can take a few days, but it might take weeks (for example, NIH recommends new companies start no later than 6 weeks before proposals are due). There are several steps that MUST be completed prior to the actual registration. Each step is dependent on information generated from the previous step. Your hands are tied when waiting for each data element to be supplied/validated from its issuing organization. The length of time for the whole registration process depends on how many elements your company will need to obtain.
So how many elements will your company need? That depends on how established your company is, what you have already obtained by conducting other normal business, and if you have previously submitted a proposal. You might need to obtain some, all, or none of these basic data elements before you can submit a SBIR or STTR proposal:
Does your company have a Tax ID Number (also known as an EIN)? New companies will need to obtain one from the IRS. Once assigned, the EIN will need to be validated (numbers are assigned immediately, but it can take 2-5 weeks to activate a new number).
With activated EIN in hand, you can next apply for a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNs) Number from Dun and Bradstreet (D&B). This 9-digit number is a unique number for each physical location of your business. Once requested, a DUNs number is issued within 24-72 hours.
With EIN and DUNs, you are now ready to register in Central Contractor Registration (CCR). CCR is the primary registrant database for the Federal Government. Registration will not only require your EIN and DUNs, it will also require banking Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Information for payment of invoices. Your CCR registration will be processed complete after 24-48 hours. Note: If you do not have a CAGE code(Commercial and Government Entity Code), necessary for any DOD submissions, CCR will assign one.
With these basic data elements in hand, you are now ready to register with the specific agency to which you will submit your proposal–read the agency's solicitation to know which system (grants.gov, FastLane.com, eRA Commons, dodsbir.net, EHB, etc). I will cover these specific registrations in future postings…