NTIS ready to announce joint venture partners

Agencies who need help managing and using their data have something to look forward to in October.

Avi Bender, director of the National Technical Information Service, said by late October the National Technical Information Service is announcing the first organizations to be part of its Joint Venture Partnership.

“Our role is to connect [agencies] with the private sector, provide innovative services, data services, to federal agencies,” Bender said. “We help all federal agencies regardless of what the mission is.”

While the agency is already providing some limited services with private sector partners, those partners had to reapply under the new partnership RFP.

Bender said NTIS will take a “consultative” approach, and there will be a very limited set of partners — probably a half-dozen or so.

Once the partners are announced, Bender said his office will meet with each federal agency to have an introductory conversation about what types of data issues they’re facing.

Some agencies might have a plan and be well on their way to solving a specific problem. Others might not even know where to start.

The middle ground is where this partnership will get the best use, Bender said.

“Any problem statement needs to start with a conversation,” Bender said. “I think the conversation is one that is very critical, that’s kind of the main lesson learned … it’s really about communicating, it’s about collaborating, and it’s really about the coordination and driving diversity.”

Bender said NTIS received about 80 proposals from a variety of private sector businesses, as well as academics, researchers, for-profits and not-for-profits.

“They want to have an impact at the community level, so what we’re doing as a federal agency, a small bureau within the Department of Commerce, is creating a new innovative business model that will truly allow us to transform how to get things done and to do that in a way that is absolutely unique,” Bender said.

NTIS is not a pass-through, Bender said, but will work as the lead between agencies and partners to help them meet their mission.

“Federal agencies are our customer,” Bender said. “You cannot contract innovation. Innovation needs a conversation.”

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