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MITRE is a not-for-profit organization that operates federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) sponsored by the federal government. These FFRDCs assist the United States government with scientific research and analysis, development and acquisition, and systems engineering and integration.

MITRE is specifically chartered to work in the public interest. The company has no commercial interests, no owners or shareholders, and cannot compete for anything except the right to operate FFRDCs. This lack of commercial conflicts of interest forms the basis of MITRE's objectivity. MITRE also has the ability to acquire sensitive and proprietary information from the government and industry to inform its work. Organizations are able and willing to share information with MITRE because they know it cannot be used for a competitive advantage.

Because MITRE operates multiple FFRDCs, the company fosters a culture of knowledge sharing where knowledge gained from addressing one sponsor's challenges is leveraged when addressing similar issues faced by other federal agencies. When sponsors work with MITRE, they have access to all of MITRE's minds.