Assessment

The FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act called for an assessment of the DEPSCoR program, resulting in the publication report in two volumes: Assessment of the Defense Experimental Program To Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR): Final Report Volume I—Summary and Volume II—Supporting Material.

On the positive side, the report found:

•The DEPSCoR states’ share of non-DEPSCoR DOD funding to universities increased between FY 1995 and FY 2005 despite fluctuations in DEPSCoR funding levels.

•15 percent of the states that were eligible for DEPSCoR achieved funding levels above the 1.2 percent threshold and were no longer eligible for the program.

In short, critical indices for determining the impact of DEPSCoR seemed to have improved during the period in which the program was in place.

On the negative side, the report found:

•DEPSCoR supported institutional activities that may have increased research capacity but the significance of these activities for the national research infrastructure had not been fully assessed.

•DOD’s proposal review processes was not entirely consistent with the program’s mandate to increase competitiveness for research funding.

•DOD had not established a formal DEPSCoR post-award management process to increase future competitiveness of the awardees.

•Available data on DEPSCoR activities and outcomes were insufficient for monitoring and evaluating the program.

The reports contained the following recommendations for improving DEPSCoR:

•DOD should reform the proposal review process to focus more on investigators’ potential to conduct research in the future instead of their current research capabilities.

•DOD program managers should be formally encouraged to serve as mentors and facilitators for DEPSCoR investigators seeking to engage in additional defense-related research.

•DOD should develop more sophisticated data systems for tracking DEPSCoR activities and outcomes.

•DEPSCoR’s equipment purchases and training activities should be more fully exploited to enhance institutional competitiveness (rather than focusing primarily on enhancing the competitiveness of individual investors and small teams).



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