Strategic Planning Document - Fundamental Science
APPENDIX 2 - FOUNDATIONAL ISSUES FOR
CFS has a significant role in addressing foundational issues for
the entire research and development enterprise (education, infrastructure,
and processes that influence the effectiveness and accountability
of federal research and development). Developing an interagency
strategy for dealing with foundational issues that affect the
broad research and development enterprise is a key component of
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Issues currently being addressed in CFS plans include:
- Assessment and evaluation
- Costs of research and education
- Merit review in fundamental science
- International dimension
- External guidance for fundamental science
- Communicating science to the public.
Assessment and evaluation
Mechanisms for evaluating progress toward goals, evaluating effectiveness
of agencies and the coordinated effort in fundamental science,
assessing the state of fundamental science (as a whole and for
particular subareas), delineating areas of particular opportunity
for future emphasis, and describing gaps in the federal portfolio
of support for fundamental science are all aspects of this area.
CFS is working closely with OSTP, the agencies, and the scientific
community to develop appropriate tools for assessment and evaluation.
Evaluating progress toward goals and the effectiveness of agency
programs is connected with implementation of the Government Performance
and Results Act (GPRA). This is related to Action 6 of Appendix
1. OSTP has undertaken a wide ranging effort to address the metrics
of science to assist agencies in developing appropriate responses
- CFS has charged the Subcommittee on Research to develop a
process for addressing the metrics of science in conjunction with
the OSTP effort. A white paper will be completed following an
April policy colloquium.
Assessing the state of fundamental science, delineating areas
of particular opportunity, and describing gaps in the federal
portfolio of investments raises similar, but distinct issues,
related to those of Action 2 in Appendix 1. Many public groups,
most notably the National Research Council, have attempted to
address these areas.
- CFS will charge the Subcommittee on Research to work with
the scientific community to develop appropriate tools for assessing
the state of fundamental science. Criteria and mechanisms for
assessment should be in place by the end of 1995.
Costs of research and education
Costs of carrying out the research and education activities supported
by federal agencies vary significantly by who is performing the
activities (federal laboratories, academic institutions, private
industry, etc.). When the research and education activities are
supported by federal funds through non-federal organizations,
accounting for the costs and reimbursing them appropriately can
become serious issues. Understanding the trends in costs of
research and simplifying the complex set of mechanisms governing
reimbursement of those costs are important to the plans of all
- CFS has charged the Subcommittee on Research to review available
information or new data necessary to formulate policy options
for reimbursement of costs of research. They will also develop
policy options for the payment of costs of research associated
with the use of facilities in research and education. A preliminary
report has been submitted to CFS. Based on this preliminary report
and subsequent discussions, draft changes to OMB Circular A-21
were put forward simultaneously with the FY 1996 Budget. We expect
the Subcommittee to be involved in subsequents phases of this
- One of the most complex issues in addressing costs of research
and education is appropriate reimbursement for use of facilities.
CFS has charged its Subcommittee on Research Infrastructure with
keeping strong links with the Subcommittee on Research and taking
the issues under discussion there into account in their deliberations
on refurbishing academic research infrastructure. CFS has received
a preliminary report, with the final report due in March, 1995.
Merit review in fundamental science
The use of merit review with peer evaluation in the selection
and oversight of federally funded research and education programs
is a high priority for CFS. Working with CFS agencies to develop
mechanisms appropriate to the context of agency support for research
and education is important to implementing this priority effectively.
- OMB began collecting information on funding for merit reviewed
research activities in 1994 through its Circular A-11, Exhibit
44A collection process. CFS helped craft the definition used.
- CFS will charge its Subcommittee on Research to examine the
use of merit review with peer evaluation in its member agencies
and to provide suggestions on how CFS might move forward in this
The nature of science is international, and the free flow of people,
ideas, and data is essential to the health of our scientific enterprise.
Fundamental science provides a particularly fertile ground for
international collaboration. Developing protocols and priorities
for international interaction in this venue, CFS can help create
models for cooperation in other situations.
- CFS will join with CISET to establish a joint subcommittee
on international dimensions of fundamental science. An international
forum for consideration of the role of fundamental science in
government support of research and development is under discussion.
- Actions 3 and 4 of Appendix 1 are also related to international
External guidance for fundamental science
Another dimension of CFS work is to continue to engage the external
community in discussions on science policies, principles and objectives.
These discussions are important both for helping the external
community understand the nature of the debate taking place at
the national levels and for helping CFS members understand the
perspective of those outside the federal government.
CFS began its efforts with the Forum on Science in the National
Interest that led to the policy statement of the same name. CFS
is committed to continuing the dialogue begun there and to exploring
a variety of mechanisms for assuring that the public, including
individuals from academic institutions and industry, have an opportunity
to provide guidance as it refines its plans for the future. Many
tools for gathering input are already in place. CFS will help
to develop others. Examples include the following.
- Several regional forums to follow up on issues raised in Science
in the National Interest will take place in the spring of
1995. CFS members will participate in the university-organized
- Planning for a national forum on science literacy has begun
to describe appropriate policies and national activities for implementing
the fifth goal of Science in the National Interest.
- CFS has chartered a Subcommittee on Communicating Science
to the Public.
- Existing agency advisory committees or Presidentially-appointed
bodies will be called on for advice and guidance as appropriate
to the issues under consideration. CFS plans a leadership exchange
that will provide a basis for this activity in March, 1995, and
expects to work closely with the President's Committee of Advisors
on Science and Technology (PCAST).
- CFS will work with the National Academies of Science and Engineering
and the National Research Council as appropriate to the issues
- Scientific professional societies and organizations representing
academic institutions and the private sector will play an important
role in CFS efforts to obtain external advice.
Communicating Science to the Public
The Forum on Science in the National Interest also stressed the
importance of an American public that is well-informed about science
and technology. CFS will examine the role of federal research
and development agencies in communicating science and technology
to the public and to suggest mechanisms by which they might contribute
to the broad public understanding and appreciation of science.
- CFS has charged the Subcommittee on Communicating Science
to the Public to provide analyses, advice, and recommendations
on the role and responsibility of the federal government in the
communication of scientific information and analyses to the public.
The Subcommittee will also recommend ways agencies could work
together to be more efficient and effective and could leverage
existing resources to best coordinate and communicate their unique
scientific information and analyses to the public.
- Where appropriate, the Subcommittee will work with the NSTC
Committee on Education and Training and its Joint Subcommitte
with CFS on Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering
Education. The Subcommittee will maintain close contact with
the Joint SubcommitteeÕs working group on the public understanding
of science so that their work is complementary and non-overlapping.
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