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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH
program has separate record-keeping procedures and formats, and there is no central depository for information agencywide.
A related problem is the changing of accounting procedures and practices. Over the period considered in this study (1987-1997), NASA restructuring has resulted in similar programs falling into two or even three different program areas or offices. There is no uniform procedure for classifying grants and contracts, even in agencies where record keeping for individual grants has been relatively good. To be fair, some of the perceived problem is the result of improvements in computer and database technology —there were slightly higher standards for accountability and data tracking in 1998 than there were in 1985. However, the committee believes that understanding long-term trends in support is beneficial to the agencies and the Congress and that this area needs improvement in the development of a common classification scheme for contracts and grants, in the centralized collection of such information when that has not been done, and in the inclusion of data from at least eight years ago in the agencies' funding databases. A key part of such a program would be to ensure that changes in agency management structure do not inhibit the ability to track funding for subdisciplines in astronomy and other fields.