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Page 57 APPENDIX B WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENCE
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Page 58 THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON April 6, 1999 Dr. Bruce Alberts President National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 Dear Bruce: The VA-HUD legislation, which passed last session in the omnibus appropriation bill, called on the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the National Academy of Sciences to consider the need for a study on “Accountability of Federally-Funded Research.” As discussed at our recent meeting, I believe the Academy could be useful in assisting the agencies' efforts to craft GPRA plans and reports that are responsive to the law, OMB guidance, and their missions. I would like for the Academy to undertake an independent assessment of the strategic and performance plans the agencies have developed and of the responsiveness of their performance reports, which are due in March 2000. As you are aware, we and OMB view the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act as a “work in progress,” and we envision that agencies will benefit by sharing best practices in their performance reports, as they did in sharing their performance plans. This assessment should take into account the agencies' missions and how science and technology programs and human resource needs are factored into their GPRA plans. Rather than assess GPRA documents for all federal S&T agencies, I believe a case studies approach on major programs of five or so different agencies should provide adequate coverage. Such a study would be timely for all federal agencies as they enter the next phase of developing their new strategic and performance plans as well as their subsequent performance report for the year 2000. It would also provide an opportunity for the Academy to suggest specific applications of recommendations from its earlier GPRA report. In conducting this study, we hope you take the opportunity to hear from the various stakeholders in the process and work with the research agencies. In particular, the workshops COSEPUP held throughout its GPRA study proved useful in facilitating dialogue among the executive branch agencies, researchers, and Congress on key issues. If possible, they should be a key part of this study as well. We look forward to reviewing the results of this effort. Sincerely ~ enlarge ~ Neal Lane Assistant to the President for Science and Technology
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Page 59 U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE SUITE 2320 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON, DC 20515–6301 (202) 225–6371 TTY: (202) 226–4410 http://www.house.gov/science/welcome.htm May 12, 1999 Dr. Bruce Alberts President National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 Dear Dr. Alberts: Thank you for your recent report “Evaluating Federal Research Programs: Research and the Government Performance and Results Act.” As you know, we issued a press release supporting the findings of this report and indicating a desire to turn those principles into practical processes at agencies. After reviewing the April 6, 1999 letter from Dr. Neal Lane, Director of OSTP, we believe the proposed “accountability study” will provide a valuable service to the research community. In that letter, Dr. Lane requests the Academy “undertake an independent assessment of the strategic and performance plans the agencies have developed and of the responsiveness of their performance reports” to the Government Performance and Results Act (Results Act) via a case study approach. We agree that this type of activity would be the most appropriate action at this time to carry out the intent of section 430 of the VA/HUD appropriations bills, as the Academy has already addressed some of the analysis requested in the February 1999 Results Act report. In addition, such a study will create opportunities for dialogue between the agencies, Congress, the Administration and the research community. We appreciate your efforts on this important issue and look forward to seeing the results. Sincerely, ~ enlarge ~ F. JAMES SENBRENNER, JR. Chairman GEORGE E, BROWN, JR. Ranking Democrat NAS copy: Rich Bissell, Debbie Stine, Bill Colglazier, Jim Jensen
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Page 60 United States Senate WASHINGTON, DC 20510 June 2, 1999 Dr. Bruce Alberts President National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 Dear Dr. Alberts: Section 430 of the “VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999” requests that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a “comprehensive study to develop methods for evaluating federally-funded research and development programs.” That section, a copy of which is enclosed, is based on provisions in the “Federal Research Investment Act,” a bill we sponsored in the 105th and 106th Congresses. We have reviewed the April 6th letter to you from Dr. Neal Lane, the Director of OSTP. regarding the study requested by section 430. In his letter, Dr. Lane asked the Academy to independently assess the strategic and performance plans federal agencies have developed and the responsiveness of their performance reports to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) via a case study approach. This will allow the Academies to suggest specific applications of recommendations from its report “Evaluating Federal Research Programs: Research and the Government Performance and Results Act,” which was released in February of this year. We agree that this type of study would be an excellent way to carry out the intent of paragraph 2 of section 430, especially as paragraphs 1 and 3 of section 430 were largely addressed in the Academies' February report. Thus, we believe the most useful activity at this point would be to carry out the study requested by Dr. Lane, and thus create opportunities for greater dialogue on GRPA among the agencies, Congress, OMB, OSTP, and the research community. However, we would also ask that you respond to paragraphs 4 and 5 of section 430 as well. In the case of paragraph 4, we request that you undertake an historical analysis of the peer review process to gain a better understanding of the impact that process has had upon whether federal research programs and projects should be funded or continue to be funded. We understand the Academy is currently considering a study of the peer review process; such an analysis would be of great benefit in addressing the issues described in paragraph 4.
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Page 61 For paragraph 5, we believe additional analysis and dialogue is warranted regarding quantitative indicators for program management and administration. While the results of research can be extremely difficult to quantify, particularly in the near term, many aspects of research program management are amenable to quantitative measures. For example, how long does an agency take to make a grant? Or, how high are the administrative costs of a project compared to costs for the research itself? We appreciate your efforts on this important issue and look forward to seeing the results. We would also appreciate knowing what actions the Academies will take regarding paragraphs 4 and 5 of section 430. Sincerely, ~ enlarge ~
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Page 62 CONFERENCE REPORT ON HR4194, DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 1999 SEC. 430. COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNTABILITY STUDY FOR FEDERALLY-FUNDED RESEARCH. (a) STUDY.-The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, may enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences for the Academy to conduct a comprehensive study to develop methods for evaluating federally-funded research and development programs. This study shall- (1) recommend processes to determine an acceptable level of success for federally-funded research and development programs by- (A) describing the research process in the various scientific and engineering disciplines; (B) describing in the different sciences what measures and what criteria each community uses to evaluate the success or failure of a program, and on what time scales these measures are considered reliable-both for exploratory long-range work and for short-range goals; and (C) recommending how these measures may be adapted for use by the Federal Government to evaluate federally-funded research and development programs; (2) assess the extent to which agencies incorporate independent merit-based evaluation into the formulation of the strategic plans of funding agencies and if the quantity or quality of this type of input is unsatisfactory; (3) recommend mechanisms for identifying federally-funded research and development programs which are unsuccessful or unproductive; (4) evaluate the extent to which independent, merit-based evaluation of federally-funded research and development programs and projects achieves the goal of eliminating unsuccessful or unproductive programs and projects; and (5) investigate and report on the validity of using quantitative performance goals for aspects of programs which relate to administrative management of the program and for which such goals would be appropriate, including aspects related to- (A) administrative burden on contractors and recipients of financial assistance awards; (B) administrative burdens on external participants in independent, merit-based evaluations; (C) cost and schedule control for construction projects funded by the program; (D) the ratio of overhead costs of the program relative to the amounts expended through the program for equipment and direct funding of research; and (E) the timeliness of program responses to requests for funding, participation, or equipment use. (b) INDEPENDENT MERIT-BASED EVALUATION DEFINED.-The term “independent merit-based evaluation” means review of the scientific or technical quality of research or development, conducted by experts who are chosen for their knowledge of scientific and technical fields relevant to the evaluation and who- (1) in the case of the review of a program activity, do not derive long-term support from the program activity, or (2) in the case of the review of a project proposal, are not seeking funds in competition with the proposal.
Representative terms from entire chapter: