A new book from the National Research Council recommends changes in how the federal government evaluates the efficiency of research at EPA and other agencies. Assessing efficiency should be considered only one part of gauging a program's quality, relevance, and effectiveness. The efficiency of research processes and that of investments should be evaluated using different approaches. Investment efficiency should examine whether an agency's R&D portfolio, including the budget, is relevant, of high quality, matches the agency's strategic plan. These evaluations require panels of experts. In contrast, process efficiency should focus on "inputs" (the people, funds, and facilities dedicated to research) and "outputs" (the services, grants, publications, monitoring, and new techniques produced by research), as well as their timelines and should be evaluated using quantitative measures. The committee recommends that the efficiency of EPA's research programs be evaluated according to the same standards used at other agencies. To ensure this, OMB should train and oversee its budget examiners so that the PART questionnaire is implemented consistently and equitably across agencies.
National Research Council. Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008.
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