The centre will enhance the profile and availability of research into the third sector, focusing on such issues as the scale and scope of the sector and its impact and effectiveness. It will draw on a range of disciplines and partner institutions.
A spokesman for the Office of the Third Sector said that results of the preliminary study could be expected by the end of November.
The tender closes on 8 October.
Meanwhile, the director and project administrators of the separate Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, which has been in the pipeline for two years, will be named in October.