SBIRs, STTRs, DoD, and R&D. Vertx understands the confusion for newcomers to federal contracting, so here is your own personal Rosetta Stone for navigating the myriad of terms you may come across.
If you’re new to the world of federal contracting – particularly to contracting through the U.S. Air Force and/or Department of Defense – then this short guide can help you decipher several of the most commonplace acronyms/initialisms you’re likely to encounter. The distinction between an acronym and initialism, if you’re unfamiliar, is that an acronym takes the first letter of each word and arranges it into a new word to be pronounced, like NASA. Initialisms (sometimes called alphabetisms) see each letter pronounced separately, like the term CIA.
Let’s take a look at a few:
- USAF (initialism) – United States Air Force; the air service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- DoD (initialism) – Department of Defense; an executive branch agency that is the largest in the nation. They are charged with managing all national security efforts in the United States. The USAF and all other service branches fall under their jurisdiction.
- USA (initialism) – United States Army; the operational military branch of the U.S. Armed forces.
- UMSC (initialism) – United States Marine Corps; the maritime land branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- USN (initialism) – United States Navy; the maritime service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- USSF (initialism) – United States Space Force; the space service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- USCG (initialism) – United States Coast Guard; the maritime security, search and rescue, and law enforcement branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- ARNG (initialism) – Army Reserve/National Guard; the state-based reserve wing of the United States Army and United States Air Force.
- FAA (initialism) – Federal Aviation Administration; the largest branch of the Department of Transportation which oversees civil aviation affairs.
- SBA (initialism) – Small Business Administration; a federal agency that supports small businesses and starting entrepreneurs.
Federal Contracting Terms
- R&D (initialism) – Research and Development; a set of pursuits focused on emerging technology and innovation.
- SBIR (initialism or acronym) – Small Business Innovation Research; a federal program designed to stimulate small business R&D. As an acronym, it is pronounced ‘sibber.’
- STTR (initialism or acronym) – Small Business Technology Transfer; similar to the SBIR program, but with particular emphasis on small business partnerships with the nonprofit research sector. As an acronym, it is pronounced ‘sitter.’
- SWaP-C (acronym) – Size, Weight, Power, and Cost; common evaluation criteria for assessing technical merit. For example, does an innovation decrease size, weight, power consumption, and cost? As an acronym, it is pronounced ‘swap see.’
- PI (initialism) – Principal Investigator; a designated team member in any SBIR/STTR proposal who bears primary responsibility for the project. The main stipulation is that this person is employed principally by the small business or the research institution for STTR proposals.
- UTM (initialism) – Unmanned Traffic Management; per the FAA website, “a ‘traffic management’ ecosystem for uncontrolled operations that is separate from, but complementary to, the FAA’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.”
- AAM (initialism) – Advanced Air Mobility; work focused on the next generation of aviation, with a broad emphasis on logistics transportation, cargo, personal travel, military affairs, etc.
- UAM (initialism) – Urban Air Mobility; a subset of Advanced Air Mobility focused on intracity aerial transportation, whether in mass-public transit or Personal Air Vehicles.
- UAS (initialism) – Unmanned Aerial System; aircraft or equipment devoid of human passengers that can operate remotely.
- UAV (initialism) – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle; an aircraft devoid of human passengers that is frequently directed autonomously via operators on the ground. Usually referred to as a drone.
- PAV (initialism) – Personal Air Vehicle; a private, as-needed aircraft that individuals can operate to transport themselves or others.
- LDAV (initialism) – Logistics Delivery Air Vehicle; a type of drone which transports cargo and goods.
- VTOL/eVTOL (initialism or acronym) – Vertical Takeoff and Landing/electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing; a method of propulsion most popularly associated with helicopters. As an acronym, it is pronounced ‘vee-tol’ or ‘ee-vee-tol.’
You don’t need to look far to find a wide array of acronyms/initialisms. Most comprehensive lists are overwhelming, and the challenge of finding the term you’re looking for can be daunting. The Department of Defense employs acronyms/initialisms to convey unwieldy information effectively and timely – familiarizing yourself with several of these terms will help as you dive into the world of federal contracting.
Please visit the Ohio Federal Research Network’s (OFRN) glossary for more information regarding unfamiliar terms.
Vertx Partners remains committed to assisting potential clients in their quest to do business with the federal government. If you have any questions or need assistance in navigating the world of federal contracting, reach out to us, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
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