[To accompany H.R. 2158]
MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND FOR SUNDRY INDEPENDENT AGENCIES, COMMISSIONS, CORPORATIONS, AND OFFICES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 1998, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
. . . . The conferees concur with the direction of the Senate to promote competition in the award of advanced technology development (ATD) funds. To achieve this end, commencing with fiscal year 1998 and continuing in each year thereafter, NASA should consolidate all space science ATD activities into an easily accessible consolidated budget line item and award not less than 75 percent of these funds through broadly distributed announcements of opportunity that solicit proposals from all categories of organizations, including educational institutions, industry, nonprofit institutions, NASA Centers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other Government agencies, and that allow partnerships among any combination of these entities, with evaluation, prioritization, and recommendations made by external peer review panels, consistent with the recommendations contained in the 1995 National Academy of Sciences report on managing the space sciences. In awarding ATD funds in this manner, the conferees wish to make clear that final selection of all proposals rests with NASA officials consistent with Office of Procurement Policy guidelines; and that setting technology requirements that are the foundation of the AO's rests with NASA program managers, consistent with guidance provided by advisory bodies of the at-large science community. In this fashion, NASA's technology investments will be managed in a manner parallel to that traditionally employed in implementing the agency's science program.