Review of the University-Government Partnership

In summer 1996 the President received letters from industry leaders, many of the nation's governors, and Nobel Laureates expressing concern about what they described as stresses in the partnership between government and universities, especially as it related to research. The President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology had also grown concerned about the state of the government-university partnership, and urged a review. PCAST was especially concerned that government policies were eroding the vital interconnections between research and education. Universities also suggested that frequent changes in government practices in financing research were having a detrimental impact on them. In light of these concerns, the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology issued Presidential Review Directive-4 (NSTC/PRD-4) in September 1996, which called for the National Science and Technology Council to assess the government-university partnership and provide recommendations for how to improve it. The goals of the review are to promote cost-effective university-based research, fair allocation of research costs, and a strengthened research-education linkage, all while maintaining appropriate accountability for expenditure of public funds. The NSTC created an interagency Task Force under the auspices of the Committee on Fundamental Science (now the Committee on Science) to review the status of the Federal Government-University partnership and to recommend ways to improve it.

Task Force Charge and Activities:

The Task Force is charged to assess the policies, programs, and regulations that shape the government-university research partnership, associated educational activities, and research administration. More specifically, the focus of the Task Force is in three areas: regulatory requirements as they affect both parties in the partnership; the diversity of agency administrative mechanisms for government-university interactions; and support mechanisms for developing the next generation of researchers.

The Task Force is chaired by the Associate Director for OSTP's Science Division and is comprised of representatives from the six major research funding agencies: DOD, DOE, NASA, NIH, NSF, and USDA. Both OMB and the National Performance Review are also represented. The Critical Technologies Institute as well as the Federal Demonstration Partnership and the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable are providing assistance and insight based on their experience in this area.  The report and recommendations are expected to be approved by the NSTC by June 30, 1998.

Office of Science and Technology Policy
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