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.

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