Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the ODNI?

The ODNI stands for the "Office of the Director of National Intelligence," of which IARPA is a part. For more information on the ODNI, please visit its website at www.dni.gov.

Does IARPA release information to the public?

IARPA frequently releases items of general public interest on this website. Information also is released via the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, or FOIA (statutes which give US citizens access to US government information or US government information about themselves, respectively). The ODNI handles numerous FOIA-related cases each year and maintains an online Electronic Reading Room to release this information to the public and to provide guidance for requesting information.

How do I submit a FOIA/Privacy Act request?

The goal of the ODNI's Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act office is to keep the public better informed about the ODNI's efforts to ensure US security through the release of as much information as possible. But because of the ODNI's need to comply with the national security laws of the United States, some documents, or portions thereof, cannot be released to the public. Nonetheless, a substantial amount of ODNI information has been or can be released following review.

To obtain records from the ODNI, a FOIA or PA request may be submitted in writing to:

Jennifer L. Hudson
Chief, Information and Data Management Group
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, D.C. 20511

A request may also be submitted in writing via facsimile to: (703) 874-8910, or via e-mail to dni-foia@dni.gov.

To obtain the status of a request or ask a question about the FOIA/PA process, you may call the ODNI FOIA Requester Service Center at (703) 874-8500, or you can email your inquiry to dni-foia@dni.gov. 

Whom may I contact if I would like to invite someone to speak to my organization about IARPA?

You may contact the IARPA Public Affairs Office via email at dni-iarpa-publicaffairs@iarpa.gov or call 301-851-7500.

Whom do I contact if I want to report a crime or suspected terrorist activity?

You should contact your local police department and/or FBI Field Office.

Whom should I call if I have a question that is not answered here?

If you are unable to find the answer to your question on our website then you may contact us at 301-851-7500 for further assistance.

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Heilmeier Questions

What are the Heilmeier Questions? How are they used at IARPA?

To launch an IARPA program, Program Manager candidates must address the rigorous Heilmeier Questions, named after a pioneer in the research and development field, George Heilmeier.  Heilmeier, an American engineer and businessman who served in leadership positions in government and industry, developed a set of questions while serving as the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that he expected every proposal for a new research program to answer.  The questions are:

  1. What are you trying to do?
  2. How does this get done at present? Who does it? What are the limitations of present approaches?
  3. What is new about your approach? Why do you think you can be successful at this time?
  4. If you succeed, what difference will it make?
  5. How long will it take? How much will it cost? What are your mid-term and final exams?
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Basic Solicitation Questions

Is there a predetermined award size for each BAA?

There is no predetermined award size.

How many awards are expected under each BAA?

There is no predetermined number of awards. Selections for negotiation of awards under a BAA will be made on the basis of the BAA’s evaluation criteria, program or portfolio balance, and the availability of funds.

What types of award instruments are available? Will the award be for a different instrument than proposed?

Typically, the BAA will identify the types of instruments to be awarded, which may include a procurement contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or other transaction agreement (OTA).

What is the expected number of organizations per proposal?

There is no predetermined or desired number of organizations per proposal.

May an offeror submit a classified proposal?

Yes. Offerors choosing to submit a classified proposal must first receive permission from the Original Classification Authority to use their information in replying to a BAA. Applicable classification guide(s) should be submitted to ensure that the proposal is protected appropriately. Please contact the IARPA Security Office at 301-851-7580 for further guidance.

Is there a bidders list?

IARPA does not maintain a bidders list for unclassified BAAs. However, a list of the Proposers’ Day attendees will normally be posted on a Program’s webpage at www.IARPA.gov.

Are the Sample Cover Sheets for each Volume, shown in the Appendices, supposed to be used as the actual cover pages for the proposal?

Yes. Offerors should use the Sample Cover Sheets for Volumes 1 and 2 as provided in the Appendices as their cover sheets.

What is a Contractor’s Reference Number and how does an offeror obtain one? Is a Contractor’s Reference Number needed for a solicitation?

Contractors may assign an identifying number, i.e., the Contractor’s Reference Number, to their proposal to facilitate communications between the company and the Government. This number, which is not required by IARPA, is generated by the contractor.

The BAA website on FedBizOpps has a link to download/view the Academic Institution Acknowledgement Letter template, but not a Transmittal Letter template. What is the difference between an Academic Institution Acknowledgement Letter and a Transmittal Letter?

The Academic Institution Acknowledgement Letter and the Transmittal Letter are two different documents. The Transmittal Letter is a free-form cover letter for the entire proposal from the offeror addressed to IARPA.

The requirement for an Academic Institution Acknowledgement Letter arises from paragraph 2.7 of Executive Order 12333, as amended, which states, “Contracts or arrangements with academic institutions may be undertaken only with the consent of appropriate officials of the institution.”

Do foreign universities have to submit an Academic Institution Acknowledgement Letter?

No. The requirement to submit an Academic Institution Acknowledgement Letter only applies to U.S. academic institutions.

May an offeror submit a white paper or abstract to show IARPA a picture of what they want to propose and receive feedback on their approach?

White papers or abstracts should only be submitted for those BAAs that request them. If a white paper or abstract is submitted against a BAA that does not request them, it will be disregarded and no response or feedback will be provided to the offeror.

When BAAs request a white paper or abstract, is the white paper or abstract a requirement for subsequent submission of a full proposal?

Unless stated otherwise in the BAA, white papers or abstracts are not a requirement to submit a full proposal.

If a BAA requests a white paper, will feedback be provided to the authors?

Unless otherwise stated in the BAA, authors who submit white papers will be provided with feedback that they may consider in developing the full proposal.

If there are several awardees, will they all start at the same time?

IARPA anticipates that most awardees will start at approximately the same time for each Program, although there can be delays depending on the details of contract negotiations.

Could you clarify the meaning of “Performance Period” and “Proposal Validity Period”?

“Performance Period” refers to the time period during which Program-related activities are carried out. “Proposal Validity Period” refers to the period of time during which the costs specified in the proposal are valid.

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Policy Questions

What is the process for requesting an OCI waiver?

If a prospective offeror, or any of its proposed subcontractor teammates, believes that a potential conflict of interest exists or may exist (whether organizational or otherwise), the offeror should promptly raise the issue with IARPA and submit a waiver request by email to the mailbox address for the BAA to which they would like to propose. All waiver requests must be submitted through the offeror, regardless of whether the waiver request addresses a potential OCI for the offeror or one of its subcontractor teammates.

All facts relevant to the existence of the potential conflicts of interest, real or perceived, should be disclosed in the waiver request. The requests should also include a proposed plan to avoid, neutralize, or mitigate such conflict.

Is there anything precluding a small company from directly pursuing an IARPA solicitation?

As long as it meets the eligibility requirements stated in the BAA, any responsible small business capable of satisfying the Government's needs may submit a proposal.

Are employees of a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) eligible to submit a proposal? Is it permissible to include a researcher who is an employee of an FFRDC in a proposal if they serve as an independent contractor?

For Program BAAs, employees of other Government Agencies, FFRDCs, University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), and any other similar type of organization that has a special relationship with the Government, that gives them access to privileged and/or proprietary information or access to Government equipment or real property, are not eligible to submit proposals under IARPA Program BAAs or participate as team members under proposals submitted by eligible entities.

For IARPA-Wide BAAs, if an offeror believes that their idea requires the use of a unique capability that resides in an OGA, FFRDC, or UARC, the offeror should describe the capability and how they intend to use it to accomplish the proposed objectives, the organization where it resides, a point of contact, and explain why it is not otherwise available from the private sector. If, upon review of the proposal, IARPA determines that the identified capability is not unique, the proposal will not be favorably reviewed. It is incumbent upon the offeror to conduct due diligence in assuring that the capability does not exist in the private sector.

Does IARPA release the names of individuals on a proposal evaluation team?

Reviewers will be experts in the field; however, IARPA does not disclose the identities of individual reviewers of the proposal evaluation team.

May offerors to a BAA meet with an IARPA Program Manager to present ideas, discuss an approach, or obtain guidance, etc?

For Program BAAs, IARPA Program Managers (PMs) will not meet with organizations to discuss proposed responses to an open Program solicitation. For IARPA-Wide BAAs, prospective offerors are encouraged to contact PMs whose interests are aligned with their proposed concept before submitting an abstract or proposal. It is recommended that a teleconference with individual PMs be scheduled by an electronic mail request with an indication of the topic to be discussed. The purpose of these contacts is to avoid proposals that are misaligned with IARPA’s mission or that are redundant with other IARPA programs or solicitations.

Our university hosts a UARC that supports current IARPA programs. Are we still eligible to participate on IARPA BAAs?

Universities that host UARCs may be eligible to participate. However, an Organizational Conflicts of Interest (OCI) waiver request should be submitted. Please see IARPA's OCI policy. The waiver request should explicitly address any potential OCI, whether real or perceived. Offerors should carefully address anything that might be perceived to give them an unfair competitive advantage on the solicitation because of their affiliation with the UARC, including, but not limited to, any access to privileged, proprietary, and/or Government-sensitive information relevant to the focus area of the solicitation, and access to Government information, equipment, real property, or other resources that are not generally available to others."

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Cost and Budget Questions

For proposal submissions, is the prime or sub organization responsible for the inventory of any purchases under the project funds?

The prime is responsible for maintaining an inventory list and reporting it to the Government; however, they may task the subcontractor to provide that information to them as part of the subcontract requirements.

If an offeror is required to use Government Furnished Equipment (GFE), Government Furnished Property (GFP), or Government Furnished Information (GFI), are they expected to obtain estimates for these costs and include them in their cost proposals? Are the GFE or GFP costs considered part of the total contract award?

No. GFE/GFP will be provided to the awarded contractors at no cost.

Does an offeror need to price the cost for shipping any Government Furnished Equipment (GFE), Government Furnished Property (GFP), or Government Furnished Information (GFI)?

An offeror does not need to price the cost for shipment.

An offeror has a subcontractor who wants to send their financial details separately from the proposal for their internal confidentiality. Is this acceptable?

If any subcontractor does not wish to provide their direct and/or indirect rates to the prime contractor, their proposal may contain burdened rates; however, a copy of the proposal showing their unburdened rates shall be contained in the offeror’s proposal as a sealed package to the Government.

An offeror’s institution requires that funding for Ph.D. students be procured up front for the entire time it takes them to get their degree. Will IARPA be able to do this, or is funding restricted by phase?

IARPA typically disburses funds to performers on an annual basis. Funding for optional periods will be based upon performance, program priorities, the availability of funds and IARPA priorities.

The prime organization is subject to auditing by the DCAA. What about any other organizations participating in the proposal?

All organizations, both prime and subcontractor(s) receiving funding from the Government, are subject to Government audit.

Does IARPA interface solely with the prime organization? Will each organization get their own funds according to the cost proposal?

If a proposal is selected for negotiation, the Government will negotiate with the prime offeror and the prime will be responsible for all reporting and billing for work done by the prime and all subcontractors. Thus, the prime is responsible for distributing funds to the subcontractors.

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Teaming Questions

May a subcontractor be a member of more than one offering team?

Yes. However, an individual or organization associated with multiple teams must take care not to commit more resources than can be effectively applied to the program under the BAA to which they are proposing.

Is there a preference for big or small teams?

There is no preference for large or small teams, or teams led by large or small organizations.

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Miscellaneous Questions

For BAAs requiring clearances, will IARPA sponsor people to get security clearances for members of successful bid teams?

Generally, team members who support classified work must hold appropriate clearances at the time of proposal submission. In addition, offerors must have a sufficient number of cleared personnel at the time of proposal submission to execute their proposed plan.

Should an offeror propose under an IARPA-Wide BAA or to an open Program BAA?

The IARPA-Wide BAAs seek research ideas for topics that are not addressed by emerging or ongoing IARPA programs, or other published IARPA solicitations. They are primarily, but not solely, intended for early stage research that may lead to larger, focused programs in the future. Therefore, periods of performance will generally not exceed 12 months. In contrast, IARPA Program BAAs are focused on a particular effort/area of research and normally have periods of performance lasting 3-5 years.

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