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Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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A new book from the National Research Council recommends changes in how the federal government evaluates the efficiency of research at EPA and other agencies. Assessing efficiency should be considered only one part of gauging a program's quality, relevance, and effectiveness. The efficiency of research processes and that of investments should be evaluated using different approaches. Investment efficiency should examine whether an agency's R&D portfolio, including the budget, is relevant, of high quality, matches the agency's strategic plan. These evaluations require panels of experts. In contrast, process efficiency should focus on "inputs" (the people, funds, and facilities dedicated to research) and "outputs" (the services, grants, publications, monitoring, and new techniques produced by research), as well as their timelines and should be evaluated using quantitative measures. The committee recommends that the efficiency of EPA's research programs be evaluated according to the same standards used at other agencies. To ensure this, OMB should train and oversee its budget examiners so that the PART questionnaire is implemented consistently and equitably across agencies.


Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2008. Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

152 pages |6 x 9
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-11684-8
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-17819-8

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xx
Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1-2
Summary 3-10
1 Introduction: The Government Performance and Results Act, the Program Assessment Rating Tool, and the Environmental Protection Agency 11-20
2 Efficiency Metrics Used by the Environmental Protection Agency and Other Federal Research and Development Programs 21-37
3 Are the Efficiency Metrics Used by Federal Research and Development Programs Sufficient and Outcome-Based? 38-51
4 A Model for Evaluating Research and Development Programs 52-57
5 Findings, Principles, and Recommendations 58-68
Appendix A: Biographic Information on the Committee on Evaluating the Efficiency of Research and Development Programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 69-74
Appendix B: Evaluating the Efficiency of Research and Development Programs at the Environmental Protection Agency: Workshop Summary 75-85
Appendix C: Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) Questions 86-89
Appendix D: The Environmental Protection Agency's Strategic and Multi-year Planning Process 90-94
Appendix E: Agency and Industry Efficiency Measures 95-108
Appendix F: Draft Board of Scientific Counselors Handbook for Subcommittee Chairs: Draft Proposed Charge Questions for BOSC Reviews 109-112
Appendix G: OMB's Research and Development Program Investment Criteria 113-118
Appendix H: Charge to the BOSC Subcommittee on Safe Pesticides/Safe Products Research 119-127
Appendix I: PART Guidance on Efficiency Measures 128-132

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