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OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 2003: FEDERAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BUDGET APPENDIX B National Science Board Federal Research Resources: A Process for Setting Priorities3 Recommendations (Excerpted from Executive Summary) RECOMMENDATIONS Implementation of a broad-based, continuous capability for expert advice to both OMB and Congress during the budget process would yield immediate benefits to decision makers. There is also a long-term need for a regular, systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of Federal investments in achieving Federal goals for research through the Office of Science and Technology Policy, drawing broad-based input from scientific experts and organizations in all sectors. Complementing both would be improved analyses on research opportunities, needs, and benefits to society; and timely data that trace research investments through the budget process and beyond. Keystone Recommendation 1 The Federal Government, including the White House, Federal departments and agencies, and the Congress should cooperate in developing and supporting a more productive process for allocating and coordinating Federal research funding. The process must place a priority on investments in areas that advance important national goals, identify areas ready to benefit from greater investment, address long-term needs and opportunities for Federal missions and responsibilities, and ensure world class fundamental science and engineering capabilities across the frontiers of knowledge. It should incorporate input from the Federal departments and agencies, advisory mechanisms of the National Academies, scientific community organizations representing all sectors, and a global perspective on opportunities and needs for U.S. science and technology. RESEARCH COMMUNITY INPUT ON NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES Presently there is no widely accepted and broadly applied way for the Federal Government to obtain systematic input from the science and engineering communities to inform budget choices on support for research and research infrastructure. The current system often fails to produce advice and information on a schedule useful to the budget process and responsive to needs for broad-based, informed assessments of the benefits and costs of 3 National Science Board, Federal Research Resources: A Process for Setting Priorities (NSB 01-156), Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2001, pp. 4-7.
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OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 2003: FEDERAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BUDGET alternate proposals for Federal support. A more effective system for managing the Federal research portfolio requires adequate funding, staffing, and organizational continuity. Recommendation 2 A process should be implemented that identifies priority needs and opportunities for research—encompassing all major areas of science and engineering—to inform Federal budget decisions. The process should include an evaluation of the current Federal portfolio for research in light of national goals, and draw on: systematic, independent expert advice from the external scientific communities; studies of the costs and benefits of research investments; and analyses of available data; and should include S&T priorities, advice, and analyses from Federal departments and agencies. The priorities identified would inform OMB in developing its guidance to Federal departments and agencies for the President's budget submission, and the Congress in the budget development and appropriations process. EXECUTIVE BRANCH ADVISORY MECHANISM The Executive Branch should implement a more robust advisory mechanism, expanding on and enhancing current White House mechanisms for S& T budget coordination and priority setting in OSTP and OMB. It is particularly essential that the advisory mechanism include participants who are experienced in making choices among excellent opportunities or needs for research, for example, vice provosts for research in universities, active researchers with breadth of vision, and managers of major industrial research programs. Recommendation 2a An Executive Branch process for ongoing evaluation of outcomes of the Federal portfolio for research in light of Federal goals for S&T should be implemented on a five-year cycle.4 A report to the President and Congress should be prepared including a well-defined set of the highest long-term priorities for Federal research investments. These priorities should include new national initiatives, unique and paradigm shifting instrumentation and facilities, unintended and unanticipated shifts in support among areas of research resulting in gaps in support to important research domains, and emerging fields. The report should also include potential trade-offs to provide greater funding for priority activities. The report should be updated on an annual basis as part of the budget process, and should employ the best available data and analyses as well as expert input. Resources available to OSTP, OMB and PCAST should be bolstered to support this function. CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY MECHANISM There is no coherent congressional mechanism for considering allocation decisions for research within the framework of the broad Federal research portfolio. Though improvements in the White House process —particularly expansion of activities and resources available to OSTP —would benefit congressional allocation decisions, one or more congressional mechanisms to provide expert input to research allocation decision are badly needed. Recommendation 2b Congress should develop appropriate mechanisms to provide it with independent expert S&T review, evaluation, and advice. These mechanisms should build on existing resources for budget and scientific analysis, such as the 4 The designation of a five-year cycle for evaluation of the Federal portfolio reflects both the scale of the effort, which would require a longer time than an annual process, and the increasingly rapid changes in science that demand a frequent reevaluation of needs and opportunities for investments.
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OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 2003: FEDERAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BUDGET Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, the Government Accounting Office5, and the National Academies. A framework for considering the full Federal portfolio for science and technology might include hearings by the Budget Committees of both houses of Congress, or other such broadly based congressional forums. DEFINITIONS, DATA AND DATA SYSTEMS High quality data and data systems to monitor Federal investments in research would enhance the decision process. Such systems must be based on definitions of research activities that are consistently applied across departments and agencies and measured to capture the changing character of research and research needs. Improving data will require long-term commitment with input from potential users and contributors, and appropriate financial support. Recommendation 3 A strategy for addressing data needs should be developed. Such a strategy supported by OMB and Congress and managed through OSTP and OMB would assure commitment by departments, agencies and programs to timely, accessible data that are reliable across reporting units and relevant to the needs for monitoring and evaluating Federal investments in research. Current data and data systems tracking federally funded research should be evaluated for utility to the research budget allocation process and employed as appropriate. INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS Both relative and absolute international statistical data and assessments should be a major component of the information base to support Executive Branch and Congressional research budget allocation decisions. International benchmarking of U.S. research performance and capabilities on a regular basis responds to the growing globalization of science and technology and the need for the U.S. to maintain a world-class science and engineering infrastructure. Recommendation 4 Input to Federal allocation decisions should include comparisons of U.S. research resources and performance with those of other countries. National resources and performance should be benchmarked to evaluate the health and vigor of U.S. science and engineering for a range of macroeconomic indicators, using both absolute and relative measures, the latter to control in part for the difference in size and composition of economies. Over the long term, data sources should be expanded and quality improved. FEDERAL RESEARCH BENEFITS TO THE ECONOMY AND SOCIETY In addition to monitoring Federal expenditures for research, measuring the benefits to the public of funded research is essential for prudent management. Implementation of this recommendation should be coordinated with Recommendation 3 on definitions and data systems. Recommendation 5 The Federal government should invest in the research necessary to build deep understanding and the intellectual infrastructure to analyze substantive effects on the economy and quality of life of Federal support for science and technology. The research should include improvements to methods for measuring returns on public investments in research. 5 Sic. Should read “General Accounting Office”.
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