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April 6, 1999
Dr. Bruce Alberts
National Academy of Sciences
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
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.


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Neal Lane
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

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