Oak Ridge Associated Universities has received a new $1.4 billion contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and continue the work that the educational consortium has done since the 1940s.
DOE’s announcement said the initial contract term is through Sept. 30, 2020, with the potential for another five years.
ORAU was the longtime incumbent, but the consortium of universities this time faced competition from the Desert Research Institute in Nevada.
In a statement, Johnny Moore, DOE’s science chief in Oak Ridge, said the selection of ORAU “culminated after extensive evaluations by the selection team. We look forward to building upon the assets already established.”
ORAU President Andy Page said he was very grateful for the DOE contract award, but he said he couldn’t comment in detail until after the protest period has passed. DRI has not yet said if it plans to appeal the contract award.
In a statement, DRI President Stephen G. Wells said he and other DRI others would receive a “debriefing” from DOE’s contract selection team next week. After that, the company will have a limited period to protest the contract decision.
Even though ORAU had held the management contract at ORISE since 1992, the year it was created, Page said ORAU prepared its proposal not based on what it has done in the past but what it plans to do in the future. He said ORAU has proposed ways to make the Oak Ridge institute more “globally connected” and more valuable to the Department of Energy.
“We already have some world-class programs,” Page said, citing the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site. REACTS is on call around the clock to respond to radiation accidents, and personnel at the Oak Ridge facility also conducts training classes for medical personnel around the world on radiation-related treatments and emergency response.
ORAU is a consortium of 114 universities that has served as a Department of Energy contractor for decades, dating back to 1942 when it was known as the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education was created in 1992 to focus the multiple programs under a DOE contract, although ORAU also does work for other federal agencies.
ORISE supports DOE’s missions and works closely with other DOE institutions — notably Oak Ridge National Laboratory — to develop partnerships with universities and help advance science education in the United States.
The Oak Ridge institute also is engaged in worker health studies and plays a role in evaluating claims for the sick nuclear workers compensation program.
The institute also provides independent verification of cleanup activities taking place at radioactive sites around the country.
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