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NIST To Open New Competitions for MEP Centers Across the Country

July 17, 2014

Over the next three years, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) plans to hold open competitions for MEP center cooperative agreements in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The process will begin with a demonstration program this summer, in which competitions will be held in six to 10 states in each of MEP’s six regions. MEP notes that the recompetition is being undertaken to comply with guidelines calling for new competitions at least every 10 years, and will allow MEP to reduce the variation in funding levels across the country.

Though MEP plans to hold new competitions in every state, no list or timeline of competitions has been released.  Current MEP center operators will be eligible to reapply for cooperative agreements, but the competition will be open to other applicants as well. NIST’s associate director of Innovation and Industry Services will be responsible for the selection process.

The official language of the Federal Funding Opportunity notice is not yet available, but MEP has indicated that applicants will need to submit as a single state entity. NIST has not yet released its guideline for states that currently have multiple MEP centers. Within the structure of the MEP program, however, there is flexibility for agreements to include different kinds of structures and geographic arrangements. The new awards will entail a 1:1 cost share for the first three years of the cooperative agreements.

 MEP hopes to use the recompetition process to conduct rigorous due diligence in selecting the best operators for its centers and to ensure that funding levels are consistent across the country.  As part of this effort, centers whose funding is now below the system average will be brought up to the average level. MEP intends to “hold harmless” funding levels at centers with levels higher than the national average.

The demonstration program this summer will allow MEP to test and refine procedures, milestones and requirements for the competitions in the remaining states.

Learn more about the competition…

dept of commerce, manufacturing