STARS Alliance, and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program (EPSCoR). The last of these is offered across multiple agencies.
Tracey Pinson, director of the Office of Small Business Programs, Department of the Army, presented numerous options for ERIs to become involved in Army procurements. She described the suite of research and development programs offered by the Army command centers and the Corps of Engineers, and she mentioned that the primary vehicle for doing business is contracts, which is an impediment for many ERIs.
She referenced the Department of Defense (DoD) small business goal of awarding 5 percent of the total contracts awarded to all higher education institutions to HBCUs and other minority institutions (MIs). DoD includes HBCUs and MIs in its definition of small disadvantaged businesses for the purpose of reporting progress toward achieving the 5 percent goal. She reported, however, that the Army exceeds that goal annually by awarding 20 percent of its procurements to those institutions, excluding awards to federally funded research centers or university-affiliated research centers.
Pinson discussed three programs that she thought are relevant for ERIs: the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR), and Mentor-Protégé Program.
The Mentor-Protégé Program particularly resonated with the workshop participants. In describing the program, Pinson mentioned that the Army provides funding for large companies to mentor small disadvantaged businesses (includes HBCUs and MIs) in the area of government contracting. Successful mentoring companies not only have all mentoring expenses reimbursed, but are eligible for awards and for extra points in competition for DOD contracts.
For many ERIs, government contracting is a specialty skill whose absence on campus precludes ERI researchers from accepting large DOD contracts, or contracts from other agencies. The ability to obtain contracting expertise through mentoring would present a significant opportunity for ERIs’ ability to secure research funding and to develop long-term collaborations for future joint efforts.
Unfortunately, the Mentor-Protégé Program is legislatively constrained from having universities serve as mentors. Pinson stated it was “number one on my list” to recommend changes in the legislation to permit universities to participate as mentors as well as protégés. She men-