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Supporting Research and Data Analysis in NASA's Science Programs: Engines for Innovation and Synthesis
Care should be taken to implement this recommendation in its intended spirit—that is, to provide a management tool. The effort could be easily subverted to mask actual practices if demonstrating a desired outcome became the de facto norm. For example, science support by university or industry contractors performed on or near a field center might be classified as research in universities or in industry rather than by field centers, or a pass-through contract from a university to industry might be classified as university instrument building rather than industry instrument building.
Finding: NASA does not use the extended records of its budgets and expenditures as management tools to monitor the health of its R&A and DA programs. Moreover, the fragmented budget structure for R&DA makes it difficult for the scientific community to understand the content of the program and for NASA to explain the content to federal budget decision makers.
Recommendation 6: NASA's science offices should establish a uniform procedure for tracking budgets and expenditures by the class of activities and the types of organizations (including intramural and extramural laboratories, industry, and nonprofit entities) that are actually performing the work. These data should be gathered and reported annually and used to inform regular evaluations of R&DA activities (Recommendations 1 and 2). One approach would be to itemize the following elements in the budget: theoretical investigations; new instrument development; exploratory or supporting ground-based and suborbital research; interpretation of data from individual or multiple space missions; management of data; support of U.S. investigators who participate in international missions; and education, outreach, and public information. In addition, these data should be made publicly available and reported annually to the Office of Management and Budget and to Congress.