Issues Concerning the National Materials Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980, Public Law 96-479

Published: May 17, 1983. Publicly Released: May 17, 1983.

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Testimony was given on issues concerning the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act. The act required the President to submit by October 1981 a program plan to include programmatic and budgetary proposals and organizational structures to provide for materials and minerals policy analysis and decisionmaking and interagency coordination at the Cabinet level. GAO found three deficiencies in the program plan: (1) it emphasized minerals as opposed to materials problems and some components of materials' systems are not adequately addressed; (2) the plan's primary focus on the national security aspects of dependency tends to obscure or ignore other issues which affect economic well-being and industrial production; and (3) even though the plan focuses on national security, it does not develop an approach to measure the magnitude or degree of U.S. vulnerability to supply disruptions or sharp price increases in given nonfuel and material markets to determine what the proper Federal role should be. The plan does not state what role the Executive Office will play. In addition, the Cabinet Council on Natural Resources and the Environment, which has formal responsibility for coordination, may not be able to effectively implement the coordination requirements since it lacks both representative membership and a procedure for bringing materials-related issues of nonmember agencies and private industry to the Council's attention. GAO also noted that the act itself does not require that the program plan be periodically updated and resubmitted to Congress.

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