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University Affiliated Research Center (UARC)


  1. The Ames UARC is a contractual vehicle that is new to NASA and developed principally to provide long-term continuity of top-tier research talent focused on NASA’s multidisciplinary mission needs.  Ames Research Center is establishing a unique model consisting of a civil service-based core research center tightly coupled with a University Affiliated Research Center.  The majority of the UARC staff will be co-located at Ames similarly to current on-site researchers.  The lead proposing entity for the UARC procurement was required to be a domestic degree-granting university, university system, or non-profit.  On September 16, 2003, the UARC contract was awarded to the University of California system.   The University of California Santa Cruz will manage the UARC contract.

  2. Ames Research Center will continue to use on-site contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and other contractual vehicles as appropriate to accomplish its research mission.  The award of the UARC Contract will not limit the appropriate choice of contractual vehicles or restrict Ames Research Center’s access to and appropriate utilization of other university or non-profit institutions.  The UARC Contract is expected to be an attractive vehicle for performing research, but will not be the only vehicle that Ames utilizes.

  3. The UARC is a task order contract with a five-year base period of performance followed by two-year and three-year options.  The UARC’s actual budget will be determined by the task orders funded by NASA programs.  The UARC’s planned budget is conservative:
  • FY 04  $15 million
  • FY 05  $15 million
  • FY 06  $25 million
  • FY 07  $25 million
  • FY 08  $40 million
  • Option periods $40 million/year
  1. While the scope of the UARC is broadly defined as the research core competencies at the Ames Research Center, the actual UARC research capabilities will be limited by the task orders funded through the contract.  The initial focus is likely to be in information technology and computer science, nanotechnologies, and aerospace operations with astrobiology, biotechnology and fundamental space biology capabilities growing later in the base period of performance.  The sample tasks in the RFP exhibits are for proposal purposes and are representative of the work appropriate to the UARC.
  1. The NASA Research Park (NRP) and the UARC are two independent initiatives.  Beneficial collaborations may develop over time between the UARC and the NRP.


  1. Ames Research Center’s mission has been growing.  Much of the Ames’s research mission requires close collaboration and involvement of Ames researchers who have both an in-depth understanding of the mission requirements and an inherently governmental role in determining strategic research and programmatic directions.  The UARC provides long-term research capabilities in close collaboration with Ames researchers.
  1. On-site contracts have provided important research capabilities and will continue to be used.  However, a broader suite of contract vehicles is needed in order to build a long-term continuous on-site resource focused on the growing need for multidisciplinary integrative research.  The UARC offers some unique capabilities because the university, university system, or non-profit, through its special relationship with Ames, can attract, develop, and retain top research talent over a long period of time.  The UARC is an additional tool with specific advantages that will enable Ames to grow and evolve its on-site research capabilities.


  1. There will be no involuntary transfer of NASA civil servants to the UARC.  ARC will continue to be a civil service-based core research center, but will now be tightly coupled with the UARC in specific research areas.  Attrition of the civil servant workforce will require the careful and deliberate management of Ames researchers to ensure that appropriate research capabilities are maintained in the civil servant core.

  2. The UARC will be funded by the partial utilization of growth within Ames budget guidelines and initially by the partial redirection of work in current on-site contracts when option periods occur and work appropriate to the UARC evolves.  The conservative size and modest growth rate of the UARC budget supports a gradual and effective process.  Ames management will closely coordinate with Ames task requestors and contractors during this process.

  3. The conservative size and modest growth rate of the UARC budget substantially mitigates the impact on current on-site contractor workforce.  The UARC provides attractive career options for both experienced and recently graduated researchers.  It is anticipated that the UARC management will evaluate all sources of talent in staffing the UARC.
  1.  It is anticipated that Ames will continue to excel in meeting its socioeconomic contracting goals in the years following award of the UARC Contract.  The UARC should help Ames improve its performance towards the Agency’s HBCU/OMEI (Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Other Minority Educational Institutions) goal.  The UARC Contract will have subcontracting goals for small businesses and HBCU/OMEIs.  The subcontracting limit in the UARC Contract will increase from 20% to 30% provided the additional 10% goes to small business and HBCU/OMEIs. 

  2. The UARC will be funded through a task order contract and (as with other task order contracts) no specific budget level is committed.  ARC plans to provide funding consistent with establishing and maintaining the required long-term continuity of research talent co-located at ARC.  The planned budget levels are conservative and flexible.
  1. Cost was an evaluation factor in the award of the UARC contract.  Potential cost impacts on specific programs and projects will be evaluated by Ames management individually before final decisions are made on actual task orders.
  1. There are no major organizational changes currently planned at Ames as a result of the UARC.  The initiation and management of task orders will still occur in the technical divisions in coordination with the funding program management.  The multidisciplinary nature of the research at Ames requires researchers to work more frequently across current organizational boundaries.  The UARC facilitates these cross-organizational collaborations through a center-wide contract.