NSF Experiment in Research Grant Administration Promising

Gao ID: PAD-82-7 September 10, 1982

GAO reported on the Association of American Universities and the National Science Foundation (NSF) experiment in research grant administration which focuses on the needs of universities for flexibility in allocating funds while ensuring appropriate financial accountability.

The experiment redirects the focus of research grant administration from NSF to individual universities and researchers, reduces NSF involvement in grant administration, and recognizes the scientific relatedness of researchers' grants. In its initial phase, the experiment reduces NSF involvement by shifting its authority to review and approve administrative and budget changes to the individual university's organizational prior approval system (OPAS). The second phase of the experiment provides universities and researchers more flexibility in the use of grant funds. GAO found that the NSF monitoring of its experiment raised a number of concerns, and it did not always adequately inform universities of changes and modifications to the experiment. However, GAO concluded that, despite some operational problems which could adversely affect the experiment's success, with the changes recommended in this report, the new approach to research grant administration will have a beneficial effect on the future administration of federal research grant funds.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Herbert R. Mclure Team: General Accounting Office: Program Analysis Division Phone: (202) 275-7783

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