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Highlights

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), administered by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is a multiagency effort intended to coordinate the nanotechnology-related activities of 25 federal agencies that fund nanoscale research or have a stake in the results. Nanotechnology is the ability to control matter at the scale of a nanometer--one billionth of a meter. A key research area funded by some federal agencies relates to potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks that may result from exposure to nanoscale materials. Because of concerns about federal efforts to fund and prioritize EHS research, GAO was asked to determine (1) the extent to which selected agencies conducted such research in fiscal year 2006; (2) the reasonableness of the agencies' and the NNI's processes to identify and prioritize such federal research; and (3) the effectiveness of the agencies' and the NNI's process to coordinate this research. GAO reviewed quantitative and qualitative data from five federal agencies that provided 96 percent of fiscal year 2006 funding for EHS research.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Science and Technology Policy The Director, OSTP, in consultation with the Director, National Nanotechnology Coordinating Office, and the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should provide better guidance to agencies regarding how to report research that has a primary focus to understand or address environmental, health, and safety risks of nanotechnology.
Closed - Not Implemented
As part of our review the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office and the Office of Science and Technology Policy we determined that no new guidance was issued regarding how to report research that is primarily focused on EHS risks.

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