A Cooperative Agreement recently established by the Edgewood Division of the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, will create collaboration and synergy for minority serving institutions, according to the agreement vision statement.

"This is an exciting opportunity for ACC-APG and the partnering organizations," said Steven R. Bryant, civilian deputy to ACC-APG's executive director. "In the future, we will continue to reap the benefits derived from this cooperative agreement."

ACC-APG initiated this agreement on behalf of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to stimulate development within the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics based programs in conjunction with the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation, said Ruby Mixon, ACC-APG's agreements officer.

"This is one of the first cooperative agreements of its kind and it will enhance capabilities for minority-serving educational institutions in support of national defense," said Mixon. "The agreement will establish a baseline to measure improvements in research and educational capabilities of such institutions in areas of importance to national defense."

Mixon said another goal is to increase the number of graduates engaged in disciplines important to national security, along with encouraging research and educational collaborations between historically black colleges and universities, other institutions of higher education, government defense organizations and the defense industry.

Mixon stressed the importance of being proactive and forward thinking to ensure program success.

"It will encourage research and educational programs and activities for minority-serving institutions," said Mixon. "This is an exciting program that is very near and dear to my heart since I'm a graduate of an HBCU, Tuskegee University. The agreement is a win-win for all team members and will facilitate collaborative work between ECBC, UNCFSP and educational institution members."

According to Mixon, the 10-year program has a total estimated value of $86 million. The amount represents the overall ceiling value placed on the agreement. Funding for participating educational institutions will be based on submissions of technical and cost proposals for each project awarded under the agreement. ECBC will provide technology objectives to guide member institutions. The institutions will, in turn, submit white papers or proposals outlining their contributions toward these objectives. The government will determine the technical merit of each proposal submitted by the learning institutions.

"An amazing amount of energy was involved in making this agreement possible," said Joseph Corriveau, director, ECBC Research and Technology Directorate. "The partnerships created through this consortium of institutions will be a powerful tool in pursuit of good science for the betterment of the nation. It will serve as a catalyst to support ECBC's mission to develop innovative solutions for protecting our nation against chemical and biological threats."

According to the agreement, the UNCFSP Corporation will be responsible for recruiting eligible institutions as consortium members and publishing requirements for white papers and proposals. The recipient will also develop a functioning website as a resource for member institutions and ECBC. Monthly reporting on the financial status of the agreement is also a requirement.

"We are acting as the conduit for this agreement," said Michael J. Hester, UNCFSP's chief executive officer for the consortium.

Hester said UNCFSP will serve as the liaison between the government and member educational institutions. As the consortium manager, UNCFSP will establish member sub-agreements and will provide mentoring and assistance within the scope and spirit of the cooperative agreement.