In summer 1996 the President received letters from industry leaders,many of the nation’s governors, and Nobel Laureates expressing concernabout what they described as stresses in the partnership between governmentand universities, especially as it related to research. The President’sCommittee of Advisors on Science and Technology had also grown concernedabout the state of the government-university partnership, and urged a review.PCAST was especially concerned that government policies were eroding thevital interconnections between research and education. Universities alsosuggested that frequent changes in government practices in financing researchwere having a detrimental impact on them. In light of these concerns, theAssistant to the President for Science and Technology issued PresidentialReview Directive-4 (NSTC/PRD-4) in September 1996, which called for theNational Science and Technology Council to assess the government-universitypartnership and provide recommendations for how to improve it. The goalsof the review are to promote cost-effective university-based research,fair allocation of research costs, and a strengthened research-educationlinkage, all while maintaining appropriate accountability for expenditureof public funds. The NSTC created an interagency Task Force under the auspicesof the Committee on Fundamental Science (now the Committee on Science)to review the status of the Federal Government-University partnership andto recommend ways to improve it.
Task Force Charge and Activities:
The Task Force is charged to assess the policies, programs, and regulationsthat shape the government-university research partnership, associated educationalactivities, and research administration. More specifically, the focus ofthe Task Force is in three areas: regulatory requirements as they affectboth parties in the partnership; the diversity of agency administrativemechanisms for government-university interactions; and support mechanismsfor developing the next generation of researchers.
The Task Force is chaired by the Associate Director for OSTP’s ScienceDivision and is comprised of representatives from the six major researchfunding agencies: DOD, DOE, NASA, NIH, NSF, and USDA. Both OMB and theNational Performance Review are also represented. The Critical TechnologiesInstitute as well as the Federal Demonstration Partnership and the Government-University-IndustryResearch Roundtable are providing assistance and insight based on theirexperience in this area. The report and recommendations are expectedto be approved by the NSTC by June 30, 1998.
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