On April 9, 2020, we published a story titled, Department of Education Cancels NextGen. The story accurately notes that ED canceled Solicitation Number 91003119R0007 for the Optimal Processing Solution (OPS) portion of its NextGen project. However, admittedly, the title of the article may have misled some to believe the entire project was canceled. It was not. There are three Solicitations associated with the project; only one was canceled. (If you're interested, this January 2019 article provides background on the three Solicitation phases.)
Additionally, our April 9th article mentions Nelnet's announcement regarding its bid for the Enhanced Processing Solution, immediately followed by mention of the cancelation of the Optimal Processing Solution. We see that this, too, may have caused confusion.
insideARM regrets any confusion the article may have caused. The Department of Education sent the clarification below regarding NextGen progress, which we share in its entirety. We look forward to reporting on the upcoming awards for the BPO and EPS solicitations that ED mentions in this statement.
The NextGen initiative is made up of multiple components, and many have already delivered modernized features and functionality for students, parents, and borrowers.
- In November 2017, FSA launched a mobile Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form, which has made applying for aid easier than ever.
- A few months later, FSA successfully awarded the contract for the Digital and Customer Care platform, which has provided our customers with a new digital front door, StudentAid.gov, and multiple enhancements to improve access to personalized, actionable information about student aid.
- Additionally, FSA expects to soon award the Business Process Operations (BPO) and Enhanced Processing Solution (EPS) solicitations, which will deliver new enterprise-wide contact centers and an FSA-managed, centralized servicing platform. Together, these new contracts will bring loan servicing into the 21st century, delivering a more modern and agile system that FSA will use to deliver enhanced accountability and improved customer outcomes.
A third solicitation, the Optimal Processing Solution (OPS), was withdrawn at the end of last week, to enable the Department to rescope the solicitation’s requirements. This is necessary to allow the Department to bring onboard technology that will appropriately implement the provisions in the Fostering Undergraduate by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE Act) (H.R. 5363). The FUTURE Act will have a significant impact on federal student aid business processes through new data sharing agreements, technologies, and protocols with the Internal Revenue Service.
Rescoping the requirements of OPS is in no way a failure; rather, it reflects a deep sense of responsibility for being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and ensuring the Department procures and implements solutions that will meet customer needs now and in the future.
The Department has worked hard since 2017 to simplify and modernize the process to learn about, apply for, receive, and successfully repay federal student aid. Further, we have greatly increased oversight of federal student loan servicers to improve borrower outcomes, operate more efficiently, and safeguard taxpayer dollars. Next Gen continues to make forward progress, and your publication spreading misinformation compromises our ability to deliver a better future for students, parents, and borrowers."