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A law aimed at ensuring the U.S. keeps its R&D edge wasn’t fully utilized because Congress gave agencies involved almost $10 billion less than it could have, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO-13-612). The law, the America Competes Act, was first passed in 2007 and is up for reauthorization this year. Congress appropriated $52.4 billion through 2012 under the law. That money primarily benefited existing programs at three agencies: NSF, which received $33.2 billion; the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, $14.6 billion; and NIST, $3.9 billion. Of the 40 programs authorized by the law, 12 were already in existence and are still operating. Six others were started, but only one of those remains active—DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The remaining 22 programs were never funded because the agencies responsible felt they duplicated existing programs.
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