Issue Date: February 4, 2008
R&D Program Analysis Berated
The White House is evaluating federal R&D programs on the basis of unsuitable information, the National Research Council says in a new report. The report focuses on EPA, which has scored poorly in White House Office of Management & Budget appraisals of federal research program efficiency. "EPA's difficulties," the NRC report says, "have grown out of inappropriate OMB requirements." For example, the White House asked EPA to determine "ultimate outcomes" of its research, such as whether the research results in cleaner air or fewer deaths, a demand NRC calls "neither achievable nor valid." Evaluations of every federal research program should consider relevance to the agency's mission, quality of the science, and ability to achieve useful results in a timely fashion with little waste, the report says. Agencies should rely on an expert review panel like EPA's Science Advisory Board or Board of Scientific Counselors to judge whether research program activities are in line with government priorities, says Gilbert S. Omenn, a University of Michigan professor who chaired the NRC panel that produced the report.
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