Recommendation 6. The director of NIH should increase the involvement of the Advisory Committee to the Director in the priority-setting process. The diversity of the committee's membership should be increased. particularly with respect to its public members.

Mechanisms for Public Input

NIH should engage the public to a greater extent in informing the process by which NIH sets its research priorities, as illustrated by the following:

Recommendation 7. NIH should establish an Office of Public Liaison in the Office of the Director and. where offices performing such a function are not already in place, in each institute. These offices should document. in a standard format. their public outreach, input, and response mechanisms. The director's Office of Public Liaison should review and evaluate these mechanisms and identify best practices.

Recommendation 8. The director of NIH should establish and appropriately staff a Director's Council of Public Representatives. chaired by the NIH director, to facilitate interactions between NIH and the general public.

Recommendation 9. The public membership of NIH policy and program advisory groups should be selected to represent a broad range of public constituencies.

Congressional Action

Recommendation 10. The U.S. Congress should use its authority to mandate specific research programs, establish levels of funding for them, and implement new organizational entities only when other approaches have proven inadequate. NIH should provide Congress with analyses of how NIH is responding to requests for such major changes and whether these requests can be addressed within existing mechanisms.

Recommendation 11. The director of NIH should periodically review and report on the organizational structure of NIH. in light of changes in science and the health needs of the public.

Recommendation 12. Congress should adjust the levels of funding for research management and support so that NIH can implement improvements in the priority-setting process, including stronger analytical. planning, and public interface capacities.

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