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Compliance With Competes Act Probed

by David Pittman
October 18, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 42

Federal science agencies have neglected to assign a percentage of their budgets to support high-risk, high-reward research, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. That task was required by Congress under the America Competes Act of 2007, which sought to double in 10 years the research budgets of the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards & Technology, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Officials at the three agencies told GAO, which was asked to review the effectiveness of the act after three years, that they faced difficulty in trying to define high-risk research, and as a result, each applied the law’s requirements differently. GAO concluded it was too early to assess outcomes of the 2007 law because new agency programs and funding have only recently taken effect. “However, all the agencies we reviewed are taking steps to oversee the implementation of various projects and monitor their progress,” the GAO report said. The America Competes Act expired in September. Its renewal for another three years has been pending before the Senate since the House of Representatives passed it on May 28.


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