Cover of Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act for Research

Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act for Research

A Status Report


Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-10: 0-309-07557-2
Copyright © 2001, National Academy of Sciences.


The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), enacted by Congress in 1993, requires that all federal agencies evaluate and report on the results of their activities annually.

Evaluating federal research programs in response to GPRA is challenging because we do not know how to measure knowledge while it is being generated, and its practical use might not occur until many years after the research occurs and cannot be predicted. For example, today's global positioning system is the result of research conducted 50 years ago in atomic physics. In 1999, the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) addressed this issue for research programs in its report Evaluating Federal Research Programs: Research and the Government Performance and Results Act. That report indicated that federal research programs could be evaluated by a process it called expert review that makes use of three evaluation criteria: quality, relevance, and leadership. Expert review is more than traditional peer review by scholars in the field. It also includes the users of the research, whether they are in industry, nongovernment organizations, or public health organizations or are other members of the public who can evaluate the relevance of the research to agency goals.

This followup report, by the COSEPUP Panel on Research and the Government Performance and Results Act 2000, describes the panel's analysis of how federal agencies that support science and engineering research are responding to GPRA. The panel decided to focus its work on the five agencies that provide the majority of federal funding for research: National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).