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Mentors/Customers Terminology Tips for the ORISE Research Participation Programs

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education lives up to its name by promoting hands-on science education experiences at government research facilities for university students, faculty, and recent graduates. The key word is "education." A facility that selects an ORISE participant is inviting the participant to come for an educational experience. It is not a procurement action . . . not contracting for services . . . and not employment.

Under the Economy Act, federal agencies may use the ORISE educational program, but may not use it in competition with private sector companies that contract for services and provide employees to work at federal agencies.

For this reason, vocabulary is important in making the distinction that ORISE helps federal agencies provide educational experiences, not perform work for the host facility. If ORISE is treated as a source of contractor labor:

    • The educational distinction is lost.
    • There is competition with the private sector.
    • The Economy Act authorization is compromised.
    • The educational integrity of the program is threatened.

Remember, the primary purpose of the program is educational, and the participant is the principal beneficiary. Benefits to the sponsor are a secondary by-product of the program.

To help you find just the right word when talking about the ORISE research participation program, here is a quick reference list:

Terms to Use Terms to Avoid
Participant Employee, contractor
Participate Work
Appoint Select hire
Mentor Supervisor
Stipend Salary
Project description Job description
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