Management of Federal Materials Research Should Be Improved

EMD-78-41: Published: Jul 14, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1978.

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The United States is the world's largest consumer of materials and has become increasingly dependent on foreign sources for materials. This materials supply problem has created the need for finding new resources at home, improved extraction and processing techniques, materials substitutes, and new materials uses.

The government's materials research programs have not been managed cohesively and could be costing taxpayers millions of dollars because of unnecessary and duplicated research, appropriation of funds to areas not related to national goals, and activities not coordinated with those outside the federal government. Many organizations have recommended that a single manager be designated to oversee materials research, but so far, no one has assumed this responsibility. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), whose mission is to oversee the government's research and development (R&D) programs, could provide the necessary leadership, but additional information on current research is needed to determine where to place emphasis. The Smithsonian Science Information Exchange (SSIE) could provide the research information, but it lacks information on private industry; and its information on federal agencies is neither complete nor current.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should enact legislation that would: (1) designate SSIE as the official data center for materials-related R&D; and (2) if OMB fails to implement reporting procedures, require agencies to report materials R&D projects to SSIE.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OSTP, should determine needs for data and for materials R&D budget recommendations for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The President, SSIE, should: (1) take more effective measures to obtain data from nonfederal sources; (2) determine the feasibility of incorporating industrial information developed by other federal sources into its information system; (3) work with agencies to develop a standard reporting form and a universal classification system for materials program management and project review; (4) inform agencies that data search costs can be reduced by excluding their data from searches; and (5) redefine the data elements of its project submission form to conform with OSTP requirements. The Director, OMB, should institute a mandatory reporting system for agency materials R&D.

    Agency Affected:


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