National Cancer Institute


Information Service

Partnership Program


About CIS

Publications Ordering

Contact Us
Link to the Web site

CIS Partnership Program

NCI's Decision About the CIS Partnership Program

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) issued a special notice on October 1, 2008 of its intent to procure services in support of its toll-free Contact Center, or 1-800-4-CANCER, which includes telephone, TTY, instant messaging, and e-mail.

A second special notice was also published indicating that NCI does not intend to contract for the other services that are currently part of the Cancer Information Service (CIS) contracts, allowing those contract tasks to end on their expiration date of January, 2010.

We recognize that this decision has raised many questions within the cancer community. This web page will attempt to answer questions and address concerns. We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.

If you have additional questions, please send an email to

CIS Partnership Program Teleconference Decision: December 2, 2008
1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m. (ET)

NCI convened a teleconference on December 2, 2008 on the decision not to renew the contract for the Cancer Information Service (CIS) Partnership Program once it expires in January, 2010. The call was provided as a forum for answering questions from the community about this decision. Featured speakers included Ms. Lenora Johnson, Director of NCI’s Office of Communications and Education (OCE), Ms. Mary Anne Bright, Associate Director, Office of Public Information and Resource Management, OCE, and Ms. Madeline La Porta, Associate Director, Office of Partnerships and Dissemination Initiatives, OCE.

Toll-Free Playback will be available through January 2, 2009 at 1-800-262-5125.

  1. Why was a decision made to end the CIS Partnership Program?
  2. The NCI remains committed to our partners and our efforts in the community to bring cancer information to those most in need. The decision to not renew the current structure of the CIS Partnership Program was made to allow us to examine the unique contributions we can make, where the greatest impact might be realized. This entails looking across the many NCI programs that support outreach and dissemination activities, aligning them with the current state of knowledge and needs, examining data to identify the populations most vulnerable to specific cancers, and then determining how we can provide the greatest benefit to those populations. The current climate demands that we maximize all of NCI's dissemination programs in order to demonstrate measurable impact. Since the inception of the Partnership Program in 1984, outreach and dissemination strategies have evolved and the number of NCI-supported and non-NCI supported organizations involved in cancer control and the dissemination of cancer information has increased substantially. In addition, implementation of state cancer control plans is well underway. Between now and 2010, NCI will re-examine how our programs and services are distinguishable from, and complementary to, the services other organizations provide within the cancer community. This will help us avoid redundant activities and reposition NCI resources to focus on priority areas that have the potential for greatest impact on reducing cancer burden and those we stand uniquely capable of addressing.

  3. How will the NCI fulfill the CIS task to work with the medically underserved? Who is going to do this work?
  4. NCI recognizes the pivotal role played by the CIS Partnership Program to collaborate with organizations to conduct outreach, education, and communications efforts to reach medically underserved and minority communities that suffer disproportionately from cancer. These efforts were designed specifically to meet the needs of diverse and particularly vulnerable populations. NCI will continue to work with our national partners representing these communities and will continue to support cancer control activities across the country. With this commitment, NCI will continue to:

    • Broaden and utilize its network of extramural scientists and cancer centers to connect patients and their families to the highest caliber, cancer care innovations in the communities where they live, integrating research within, and building the capacity of, community-based institutions.
    • Expand its own programs to actively reach out to medically underserved and minority communities to address the underlying causes of cancer health disparities.
    • Examine the current environment and knowledge base to better understand how we might further the work of our partners, as well as fill gaps and reduce redundancies.

    Our hope is that this will allow more efforts to truly move towards public-private partnerships that serve to deliver the best evidence-based innovations to those who stand to benefit the most.

  5. Is this decision reversible?
  6. There are no plans to revisit the decision. As responsible stewards of public funds, NCI is constantly reevaluating needs against ever changing environments and scientific priorities. Likewise, we are evaluating our dissemination and outreach efforts in order to:

    • Remain at the forefront of providing the latest, most accurate cancer information to the communities we serve, and
    • Effectively reach out to those populations that are most vulnerable to the impact of cancer.

  7. Did funding play a role in this decision?
  8. No, not necessarily. However, the current economic situation does require NCI to think strategically about how resources are invested and whether these investments render the best approaches to achieve the greatest impact. More now than ever before, with limited resources, NCI must demonstrate responsible stewardship. The decision to allow the current CIS Partnership Program contract tasks to expire in January 2010 forces us to think carefully about our priorities and work to leverage advances in technology and research dissemination. We will also be working to determine how best to align efforts and investments in outreach and communication programs in ways that result in the greatest measurable impacts in reducing the cancer burden.

  9. Did the decision have anything to do with the performance of the organizations in the Partnership Program?
  10. Absolutely not. This decision has nothing to do with performance. Rather, it has to do with developing a certainty in knowing our efforts are appropriate for today’s information and outreach environments. Just as we carefully review our scientific initiatives and examine how best to optimize their potential for reducing the burden of cancer, we need to carefully consider our information, outreach, and dissemination activities across NCI and be sure they are designed in a way that achieves the maximum impact.

  11. Who will work with the current CIS partners after January 2010?
  12. Collaboration is, and will remain, key to NCI’s success in achieving our mission to reduce the burden of cancer. Continuing collaborations with organizations with which NCI has existing relationships and forging new partnerships with other organizations with similar goals will be central in our efforts to reach out to those populations that are most vulnerable to the impact of cancer. NCI alone could never meet all the information needs of our diverse cancer community. We recognize that the only way we can make progress is to work through collaborations. There are numerous efforts underway that engage a host of partners, many of which include organizations who have partnered with the CIS. Between now and January 2010, NCI will consider these engagements and work as efficiently as possible to gain a better understanding of those relationships and how the Institute can best facilitate these and future activities.

    NCI’s Office of Communications and Education will serve as the coordinators for current and future partnerships. Centralizing partnership efforts will provide greater connectivity between partner organizations and the NCI and help to more closely align outreach activities with other dissemination activities of the Institute.

  13. Why was the Contact Center approved, but not the Partnership Program?
  14. The CIS Contact Center allows the public to connect directly to the Institute. The Contact Center provides an entry point to the NCI that is like none other. In addition, the Contact Center has recently expanded its services to reach non-English speaking populations. Understanding the impact of this expansion is very important to the NCI.

    NCI founded the Partnership Program when it became apparent that certain populations were not taking advantage of the telephone service for accessing NCI and the vital information it offers regarding cancer prevention and control. Since the inception of the Partnership Program in 1984, information dissemination has changed. These changes include the ways people receive information, the number and types of organizations providing information, and the ability to tailor information to specific individual’s needs and situation. It is important that we consider these changes and their impact on NCI’s outreach strategies and approaches. Rather than re-compete the Partnership Program as it has been defined for the last decade, we are taking this opportunity to determine how NCI can most effectively and efficiently disseminate important cancer information, and engage communities in order to realize an impact in the lives of those we serve.

  15. Why did NCI decide to reduce the number of contact centers?

    Because an active procurement process is underway, all questions regarding the contact center procurement should be addressed to NCI’s Office of Acquisitions. Please refer to the public announcement in FedBizOpps for contact information.

  16. Since the Partnership program is not being renewed, how will the existing contract tasks be completed?
  17. NCI expects that all current contractors will uphold their contractual obligations through the end of their contracts in January, 2010. For more specific information related to existing contracts, CIS staff and contracting institutions should contact the appropriate NCI Contracting Officer or contract specialist.

  18. Was there any public input?
  19. There have been several assessments of the CIS Partnership Program where input was sought from numerous stakeholders – including a large partnership program survey that was conducted in early 2008 where input was gathered from close to 800 partnering organizations. In addition, there have been several reviews and assessments of communication, outreach, and dissemination programs over the past couple of years. These assessments were not necessarily performed to support a decision about the Partnership Program but to gain an understanding of the attributes of the CIS Program and to better articulate those attributes.

  20. What will happen to ongoing programs like Cancer 101 and Using What Works?
  21. These programs, as well as others like the Clinical Trials Education Series, are part of NCI’s inventory of communications tools. NCI will continue to refine these and other tools and consider ways to implement them and make them available for use by our partners.

  22. What will happen to ongoing research involving the CIS Program?
  23. NCI has and will continue to support research that contributes to cancer control, cancer communications, and contribute to our evidence-base of dissemination science. NCI will continue to solicit proposals through its standard mechanisms for research in community-based cancer programming, dissemination research, communications research, and cancer control interventions research.

  24. What is the CIS budget?
  25. The total current annual budget for CIS is $16,666,507 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 and $15, 566,507 for FY 2009. The total current annual budget for the Partnership program is $9,166,578 for FY 2008 and $8,561,578 for FY 2009. 55% of the total CIS annual budget is spent on the Partnership Program.

    If you have additional questions, please send an email to



Navigation bar
Home   |    Information Service   |    Partnership Program   |    Research   |    About CIS   |    Publications Ordering   |    Contact Us   |    Accessibility Information   

Last Updated 12/05/2008