If you plan on submitting a proposal to any of the Agencies that participate in the SBIR or STTR programs, it is recommended that you take the time now to register with three databases. All of the participating agencies require that small business applicants are registered with Dun and Bradstreet, also referred to as D&B; with the System for Award Management also referred to as SAM and with the Small Business Administration’s Company Registration. Don’t wait until you are in the midst of writing a proposal in order to complete your registration - do it now, as some systems, such as SAM may take a few weeks to complete the registration process.
In addition to these three required registrations, each agency has other unique systems with which you must register. For example, NASA requires that you register to submit your proposal through an Electronic Handbook. Both HHS and the Department of Energy require that you register with grants.gov. NSF uses Fastlane for proposal submission. DOE requires that you register with four additional systems while the Department of Defense requires that you register with the DoD Submission website.
The truth of the matter is that there is nothing enjoyable about the task of completing on-line registrations. The only redeeming fact is that many of these registrations will only need to be done once. However, that said, some of the registrations, such as SAM and grants.gov are time sensitive and depend upon having secured information from previous registrations.
If you are a researcher working for a small business, before you begin to complete these registrations check with your business office to see if any of these are already in place. This will save you time. Let’s assume for sake of discussion that neither you or your company have registered with any of the three systems that all agencies require. Where should you begin?
Begin with securing a DUNS number. It’s an easy task. The on-line registration will take about 5 minutes of your time to complete. Once registered, in a few days you will receive your DUNS number by e-mail – so take care of that first. You will find a demo in this tutorial showing you how to secure a DUNS number . During the DUNS registration process you will be asked for your EIN or Employer Identification Number. Although this is not required in order to complete the DUNS registration process, heed this prompt and also request an Employer Identification Number or EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you do not have one.
The next registration to tackle is the System for Award Management or SAM. This is a requirement for any contractor who works with the federal government. Simply put, if you are not registered with SAM you cannot get paid. This registration is the most comprehensive. With SAM, once you start the registration process you will be notified that an account has been set up for you – but don’t be fooled – setting up an account is NOT the same thing as being registered with SAM. After you set up an account be sure to look for an e-mail from SAM and then activate your account so that you can complete the registration process. You will need your DUNS number and Employer Identification number in order to complete the application. As part of the registration process you will receive a Marketing Partner Identification Number or MPIN which you will need in the future – so keep that handy. The SAM registration process can take up to 6 weeks so take care of this early.
The third recommended registration is the SBA Company Registration. Once again you will need your DUNS and tax ID or EIN number in order to complete the registration process. You will also be asked to provide contact information for various company officials – so be sure to have that information handy. This registration process should take no more than 10 minutes.
People handle registrations in different ways – some people set aside a chunk of time and barrel through them; while others complete one at a time. Irrespective of your preference, be sure to complete the registrations early. As you complete these three registrations be sure that you record the information generated during the process because you will need it in the future. You will always need your ID and passwords to all systems, as well as your DUNS, EIN, and MPIN.
The accompanying table provides an overview of the registrations required by the five largest SBIR/STTR programs. Remember that in addition to these three required databases, each of the agencies has one or more additional systems with which you must register. Also, be sure to note that none of the registrations require a fee – all registrations are free. Links to each of these databases and proposal submission sites are provided as well as demos to guide you through the registration processes.