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Marta R. Metelko
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1642)

December 1, 2003
NASA Manager Discusses Agency Business Mentor-Protege Program
News media representatives are invited to meet with Ralph C. Thomas III, NASA's Assistant Administrator for Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization, on Wednesday, December 3, at the Hamilton Crown Plaza Hotel at 14th and K Streets, N.W., in Washington, where the Eighth Annual NASA Mentor Protege Conference will be held December 2-3.

Thomas will discuss NASA's dramatic progress in contracting and subcontracting to small, minority and women-owned businesses, particularly in the high-tech arena. Last year NASA awarded to small businesses in virtually every category more prime and contract dollars than ever before in its history.

Thomas will also discuss NASA's Mentor Protege Program, one vehicle the agency uses to accomplish its leadership role in the Small Business Program area. The Mentor Protege Program is designed to provide small disadvantaged businesses, including women-owned businesses and minority-serving educational institutions (proteges), with the skills to obtain high-tech subcontracts with primarily major corporations (mentors) that have NASA contracts. Existing participants in NASA's Mentor Protege Program, as well as prospective participants, will attend the conference.

Joining Mr. Thomas will be Lamont Hames, Director of the Mentor Protege Program, and Dr. Ernie Wu of ERC, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., a current program Protege, and his company's Mentor, Randy Lycans of the Sverdrup Corporation, also in Huntsville. Wu's company had a vital role in the investigation following the accident of Space Shuttle Columbia. Mr. Thomas, Mr. Hames, Dr. Wu and Mr. Lycans will be available from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Interested media should call Marta Metelko of NASA Public Affairs, at 202/358-1642, by 5 p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 2, to make arrangements for interviews.

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