Researchers have the opportunity during the next six weeks to offer their recommendations on how to improve the management of federal research grants. At a series of workshops to begin next week at three locations around the country, a cabinet-level panel is soliciting the views of research performers in preparation for a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C. These meetings are the beginning phase of a process to revise the science and technology research grant making and administration process.
These meetings are being held by a subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The council, which usually operates out of the public's eye, is chaired by President Bush. Council members include the Vice President, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology John Marburger, and relevant cabinet secretaries and agency heads. NSTC should not be confused with the Office of Science and Technology Policy or the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Information on all of these units can be accessed through the OSTP site at http://ostp.gov
Under the NSTC is a Committee on Science. Beneath this, and responsible for this process, is the Subcommittee on Research Business Models. Cognizant of changes that have occurred in the conduct of federally-sponsored research in the last few years, the subcommittee has posed nine questions on which it is seeking the input of research performers. In a little-publicized notice in the Federal Register on August 6, the subcommittee asks for comments, "including how changes . . . have impacted research costs," in areas such as accountability, inconsistencies in the policies of the federal government and universities, state and institutional requirements, research support, multidisciplinary/collaborative research, research infrastructure, information technology, and technology transfer optimization. A careful reading of these questions is important to understanding the subcommittee's focus. The August 6 Federal Register notice can be read by accessing http://rbm.nih.gov./
Three regional meetings will be held to receive public comment on these questions. The first meeting will be held October 27 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the next on November 12 at the University of Minnesota, and the third on November 17 at the University of North Carolina. Each meeting will address different questions. These hearings will serve as an input to a two-day subcommittee meeting in Washington on December 9 and 10. Portions of the December meeting will be broadcast. Information on these meetings can be read in the Federal Register by accessing http://rbm.nih.gov./ under the first September 16 notice. Review of the August 6 notice is necessary to fully understand the Subcommittee's meeting agenda.
Written comments will be accepted up to December 9 via the procedures outlined in the second Federal Register notice. NSTC anticipates that this effort will result in changes in some of the relatively easy issues by next summer, but realizes that it will take longer to resolve some of the larger issues.