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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

NCI battles non-profit for $111M contract

NCI Inc. is battling a non-profit organization to keep a contract where it helps manage millions of dollars in scholarships for the Defense Department.

NCI and the American Society of Engineering Education managed different parts of the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship-for Service program known as SMART. The Defense Department program was mandated by Congress in 2005 to increase training in science, technology, engineering and math education, known as STEM.

The American Society of Engineering Education won the $111.5 million contract on Jan. 14. NCI filed its protest with the Government Accountability Office on Jan. 27. A decision is due back May 6.

According to Deltek, NCI and the society each had a piece of the previous contract with NCI providing program support and the society providing administrative support.

Apparently, the Defense Department consolidated the two contracts into one, but so far, NCI, the society nor the Defense Department are commenting on the contract or the protest.

It strikes me as odd that a non-profit organization such as the society competes with a for-profit private sector company. It seems to me that the non-profit must hold some sort of advantage given that it isn’t expected to have the same kind of profit motivation as a company.

As the lead contractor, the society will be responsible for a wide variety of services including building and maintaining a website, marketing the scholarship program and collecting and processing applications.

The group has been doing at least part of this work for some time. The website includes the society’s domain name and includes information on eligibility and benefits of the program. The site also can connect applicants to participating schools and universities.

In 2015, 207 people received scholarships, which is about 11 percent of applicants. Their average grade point average is 3.7, according to the site.

Scholarships have gone to those studying in fields such as aeronautical engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, computer science, and information sciences. In all, there are 19 fields of study listed on the web page.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 01, 2016 at 9:26 AM

Reader Comments

Tue, Feb 9, 2016 Virginia

Are there any other such gov't protests on the books or in the works at this time? The for-profit/non-profit competition issue isn't new. It has been on-going for a number of years, but this is the first such formal protest I'm aware of. Any evidence to the contrary?

Tue, Feb 2, 2016

The advantage you raise only exist if you assume the non-profit is as productive as for-profit entities. That seems to be a tremendous leap.

Tue, Feb 2, 2016 BB NOVA & FL

Nick, It's actually not unusual at all for a non-profit to manage these multi-million dollar technology-transfer oriented programs for DoD. For dozens of years various not-for-profits and FCRCs like Battelle Memorial Inst.(and many others) have been providers managing DoD technical repositories, libraries, technical centers of excellence, technology lessons learned and transfer, etc... on large IDIQ contracts. In fact, until 12-15 years or so ago, it was unusual to see a "profit" firm in that space since there was an inherent COI appearance associated with in particular relationship where access to so much technical data might give the "profit" firm and unfair advantage in future procurements. I know of NCI's various efforts in this general space well as it was my team that initiated their involvements into that space many, many years ago.

Tue, Feb 2, 2016

Are we missing a key issue? The article doesn't provide the length of performance, but if we assume a 5-year PoP, to help manage 207 scholarships that equates to almost $108,000 per scholarship!

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