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Open Recommendations (15 total)

National Science Foundation: Additional Steps Would Improve Cost Estimate for Antarctic Research Infrastructure Project

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of NSF should ensure that the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science cost estimate meets the well-documented characteristic of a reliable cost estimate, as defined in GAO's cost guide. (Recommendation 1)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Cybersecurity Workforce: Actions Needed to Improve Cybercorps Scholarship for Service Program

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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of the National Science Foundation, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, should periodically evaluate and make public, information on how long CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service Program scholarship recipients stay in the positions they enter upon graduation. (Recommendation 1)
Open
The National Science Foundation (NSF), concurred with the recommendation and plans to implement it by April 30, 2024, but as of February 2023 has not provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We will continue to monitor the situation.
National Science Foundation The Director of the National Science Foundation should develop and implement a risk management strategy that includes a process to effectively identify, analyze, mitigate, and report CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service Program risks and challenges. (Recommendation 3)
Open
The National Science Foundation (NSF), concurred with the recommendation and plans to implement it by May 31, 2023, but as of February 2023 has not provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Cybersecurity Workforce: Actions Needed to Improve Cybercorps Scholarship for Service Program

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of the National Science Foundation should provide Congress with all required information in a timely manner for the CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service Program so Congress can use this information to make informed decisions regarding the SFS Program. (Recommendation 2)
Open
The National Science Foundation (NSF), concurred with the recommendation and plans to implement it by April 30, 2024, but as of February 2023 has not provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Research Reliability: Federal Actions Needed to Promote Stronger Research Practices

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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of NSF should collect information on relevant indicators of rigor to assess the research projects the agency funds, and implement steps, as needed, to promote strong research practices in future work. (Recommendation 3)
Open
NSF agreed with this recommendation. On January 17, 2023, NSF stated that it will support research and workshops aimed at developing an understanding of possible candidates for robust indicators of rigor in different types of science and engineering research. The information gathered from the workshops, and research on scientific rigor indicators, will inform the policies and procedures that NSF can use to enhance the rigor of the research projects the agency funds and promote the use of sound and improved research practices. This work will take place between September 2023 and September 2025.
National Science Foundation The Director of NSF should take steps to collect information to determine whether current policies and requirements are adequate to achieve transparency by ensuring research results and data are findable, accessible, and usable, and implement programmatic or policy changes, if needed. (Recommendation 4)
Open
NSF agreed with this recommendation. On January 17, 2023, NSF stated that it will conduct a study to assess the degree to which current policies and practices are ensuring that research results and data are findable, accessible, and reusable. NSF will explore strategies to improve public access to research outputs. The information gathered from these efforts will inform potential updates to policies and procedures which support transparency and public access to the products of research made possible through NSF awards. As part of this activity, NSF anticipates that the next update to its Public Access Plan will occur in FY 2023.

Earthquakes: Opportunities Exist to Further Assess Risk, Build Resilience, and Communicate Research

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of NSF should, in collaboration with NIST, develop strategies to better communicate NEHRP's priorities to research entities. (Recommendation 4)
Open
As of October 2023, NSF officials report that they are developing strategies to better communicate NEHRP priorities and relevant research findings to appropriate audiences. These strategies may include 1) adding information about research priorities to relevant solicitations; 2) adding information about priorities to NSF web pages; and 3) discussing the priorities during outreach events attended by relevant research entities.

Federal Research: Agencies Need to Enhance Policies to Address Foreign Influence

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of the National Science Foundation should include a definition on non-financial conflicts in their agency policies, such as the one developed by OSTP, and address these conflicts, both foreign and domestic. (Recommendation 9)
Open
NSF neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. In February 2023, NSF stated that it will incorporate a definition of Conflict of Commitment per NSPM-33 into its next revision of the Proposals and Awards Policy and Procedures Guide due to publish in October 2023, with an effective date of January 2024. Once published, GAO will review the updated guide and determine whether it meets the recommendation.

Data Governance: Agencies Made Progress in Establishing Governance, but Need to Address Key Milestones

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of the National Science Foundation should direct the Chief Data Officer to conduct a gap analysis between the current staff's skills and the skills the agency requires, and establish a baseline performance plan to close the identified data skills and literacy gaps. (Recommendation 9)
Open
In October 2021, National Science Foundation (NSF) officials said that NSF completed its skills gap analysis as part of its initial data maturity and capacity assessment. In February 2023, NSF reported that it is currently addressing the Evidence Act gap activities and anticipates it will have an updated timeline by the 3rd quarter of fiscal year 2023. We will continue to monitor NSF's develop of its performance plans.

Sexual Harassment in STEM Research: Agencies Have Taken Actions, but Need Complaint Procedures, Overall Plans, and Better Collaboration

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Science Foundation The Director of NSF should establish goals and an overall plan to assess all of the agency's sexual harassment prevention efforts for their university grantees, including methods to regularly monitor and evaluate its sexual harassment prevention policies and communication mechanisms (e.g. Title IX or sex discrimination websites). (Recommendation 15)
Open – Partially Addressed
NSF agreed with the recommendation. As of June 2021, according to NSF, the agency developed an initial plan to evaluate its anti-harassment policies, including sexual harassment, and communication mechanisms. This initial plan led to the development of two questions and study plans included in the NSF interim learning agenda submitted to the Office of Management and Budget in September 2020. NSF planned for the findings of both studies--one focused on the terms and conditions and the other on the conference policy--to be used to define the next phases in the evaluation of NSF's anti-sexual harassment efforts. According to an August 2022 NSF update, evaluation of NSF's harassment prevention efforts focused on the Harassment Notification Term and Condition and the conference policy. NSF provided documentation of its Phase I evaluation, issued in June 2022, which focused on the communication of the Term and Condition. According to NSF's update, its analysis showed that, on average, universities submitting proposals to NSF have adopted an anti-harassment policy and disseminate it through their websites. NSF plans to evaluate its efforts in phases over a multi-year period. GAO will assess this recommendation for closure once documentation on the remaining phases and timeframes are received from NSF.