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Budget Justification an Important, yet Underutilized Part of Proposals

July 16th, 2014 | by Kris Bergman

Budget blocks

If you’re preparing an SBIR/STTR proposal for the upcoming Aug. 5 NIH or other agency deadline don’t underestimate the power of your budget justification. Numbers on a spreadsheet are only half of the story. Reviewers need to see WHY you are spending money on the things in your budget. Here are some important things to remember:

  1. This is the only place in the proposal that really tells the reviewers who is doing what, where. It should be a valuable overview of the way the project is set up, which will help answer a lot of questions reviewers have about your company.
  2. This is not where you justify the project and talk about how great it is. That information should be in the Research Strategy. The Budget Justification is where you explain in narrative detail how you will spend the agency’s money.
  3. Every line item (including project personnel) in the project budget should have a subheading and corresponding paragraph in the Budget Justification. Keeping the order, numbering and headings as in the budget spreadsheet will help you to do this.
  4. Include all justification information for all years of a multi-year project in the same document. There should be Year 1, Year 2 and Total columns for each line item.
  5. List all Company Personnel and include the following information in a short paragraph for each:
    • Employment status – Where are they currently employed? Will this change on receipt of award? Will they be hired by the company on receipt of award?
    • Project role – What will their project role/title be, and what will they do? This is not the place to add a lot of background information about the individual and how great they are; that information belongs in the Biosketch.
    • % Effort – Express in terms of Calendar Months. E.g. 50% effort on a six-month project = three calendar months.
    • Total salary/payment in $
  6. If the application includes a subaward/consortium budget, a separate budget and budget justification must be submitted for each subaward.
  7.  The Budget Justification should be a stand-alone document to give the reviewers an overview of the budget without having to refer to the budget spreadsheets.

BBC can provide assistance not only in reviewing your budget and budget justifications, but your entire proposal. Contact us to see how we work.


Kris Bergman, BBCetc’s Grants & Contracts Management Consultant, assists clients in preparing to receive and manage federal grant and contract funds. This includes advice on financial policies and procedures, DCAA compliance, budget development, indirect cost negotiation, Just-in-Time response, using QuickBooks and preparing for government audits.

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What to Do — and Not Do — to Get Your Technology in Front of DOD

June 30th, 2014 | by Jayne Berkaw

Chad Darr, Director of Product Development for Loc Performance Products, Inc. knows a thing or two about getting products in front of the Dept. of Defense. Located in Plymouth, MI, Loc is an SBIR awardee and a full-service manufacturer of large CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machined components and mechanical assemblies for military and commercial applications.

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Strategic Partnering for SBIR-Stage Companies: Finding Your Strategic Partner

June 11th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

This is the third in a BBCetc series on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. Part one / Part two In many ways, the process of finding the right strategic partner is not much different than finding the right customer for your product. Both involve identifying and understanding a problem.

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Telling Your Story: Formatting and Readability Tips for SBIR/STTR Proposals

May 30th, 2014 | by Andrea Johanson

A good SBIR/STTR proposal is made infinitely better by writing and formatting that enhances readability and showcases your technology to its best advantage. So, before you dig in, start by knowing who it is that you are writing for. Depending on the agency, SBIR/STTR proposals may undergo an internal review, an external review, or a

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Strategic Partnering for SBIR-Stage Companies: Types of Strategic Alliances

May 6th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

This is the second in a BBCetc series on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. Read part one. Strategic alliances come in all shapes and sizes and adapt to a variety of purposes. The most common include: Pooled Purchasing Supplier Partnering Distribution Partnering Franchising and licensing agreements R&D Partnerships (sometimes

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Strategic Partnering For SBIR-Stage Companies: What Motivates Large Companies to Partner?

April 1st, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

Strategic partnering is an important component of the commercialization plans of many SBIR awardees. This is the first in a BBCetc series of blogs on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. From the perspective of the small company, the motivation seems both simple and obvious – the need for funding.

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Top five eRA Commons errors account for about 80% of total SBIR/STTR submission errors. Don’t Be That Person!

March 18th, 2014 | by Betty Royster

(Special thanks to Betty Royster and Matt Portnoy of the NIH SBIR/STTR program for their kind permission to reprint the informative post that follows.) Developing an NIH SBIR or STTR grant application requires a lot of hard work and multiple steps. Once you’ve written your application, you must be able to successfully submit it electronically

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Registration Reminder: Vegetables First, then Dessert

February 27th, 2014 | by Kris Bergman

Whether you’re a first timer or an old pro, the requirements for registering your small business with the various government websites can be as fun as a root canal. Each of the 11 agencies that participate in the SBIR/STTR funding programs has its own registration requirements; some are the same across agencies and some are

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Education is Focus of One Topic in New DoT SBIR Solicitation

February 10th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

The Department of Transportation (DoT) released its latest Phase I SBIR solicitation on February 4 with a submission deadline of April 4, 2014. The solicitation lists six topics for the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), and three topics for the Federal Railroad Administration. Maximum Phase I awards range from $125,000 to $150,000, depending on the topic,

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Guest Blog: New Strategy Connects The Boeing Company with Innovative Small Businesses

January 6th, 2014 | by Adriana Ocampo

Teaming up with small businesses helps bridge technology gaps.Developing innovative technologies has been a catalyst for growth throughout Boeing’s history. As the company approaches its 100-year anniversary, a cross-functional team is working creatively with small businesses as one way to ensure that growth continues. The team is driving partnerships with companies that receive federal research

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