Oversight of Federally Sponsored Research and Development]

Gao ID: 113733 October 7, 1980

Grantees and contractors need to understand and appreciate the importance of oversight. Oversight includes accountability and stewardship of resources, compliance with the law, management effectiveness, and program results review. It involves appraisal of achievements consistent with the goals and plans to fulfill statutory or contractual requirements and commitments. Congressional oversight procedures include the annual appropriations process, periodic reviews of program authorizations, special purpose hearings, staff investigations, reviews by GAO and other agencies, and less formal investigations. Oversight in the executive branch involves the management activities of the Executive Office and the heads of Federal agencies. Essential information must be available on a timely basis and in an appropriate level of detail for each level and management component involved in oversight. The research and development budget serves as a policy document which discloses the Administration's plans and strategy for implementing priority decisions. The Office of Science and Technology Policy was created to strengthen Government-wide oversight of science and technology. It coordinates Government-wide research and development, works with other agencies to establish priorities for research and development budget allocations, and identifies and assesses emerging and future areas in which science and technology can be used effectively in addressing national and international problems. It is important to develop definitive, comprehensive strategic plans for science and technology, and to improve the information tools that provide the basis for evaluation. Some systematic mechanism should be used to scan potential issues, rank their importance, and submit work proposals for consideration. A more formal system of congressional/executive communications should be established. Each grantee and contractor should have sufficient knowledge of the sponsoring agency to understand the perspective and context in which they will consider a proposal in relation to the agency mission. They should understand the nature of the review processes, the nature of the agreement, what kinds of information and data must be reported periodically, and what records must be kept to substantiate financial accountability and compliance with all legal requirements.

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