Federal Research:

Information on the Advanced Technology Program's 1997 Award Selection

T-RCED-98-92: Published: Feb 26, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1998.

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GAO discussed the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Advanced Technology Program's (ATP) fiscal year (FY) 1997 award selection process, focusing on identifying the information that ATP used to determine whether to accept or reject competing project proposals.

GAO noted that: (1) according to program officials, for the FY 1997 competition, NIST made the determination of whether the applicant could probably find funding elsewhere based on information gathered throughout the proposal review process; (2) this included questioning the applicants during the oral review phase if doubt remained as to whether the applicants could have found project funding elsewhere; (3) for the FY 1997 competition, there was no requirement that applicants report that they could not find funding elsewhere; (4) however, in December 1997, ATP revised its requirements such that in the future applicants must indicate on the proposal application their efforts to find private funding; (5) likewise, program officials told GAO that information acquired during the proposal review was used to determine if program support was important to the project from a national economic perspective; (6) specifically, according to ATP officials, one of the five selection criteria for evaluating program proposals, "Potential Net Broad-based Economic Benefits," relates to whether or not funding a project would create a serious national economic concern; (7) according to the guidance to applicants for preparing project proposals, the review process would include a review of the proposal by panels of outside experts in business and economics to determine the proposed project's potential for broad-based benefits and its commercial viability; and (8) however, program officials neither defined what they meant by a serious national economic concern nor how the ATP reviews resulted in a determination that a delay in project progress would not be a serious national economic concern.

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