similar kinds of research. Since it was established, the components and management of the program have adapted in response to changing agency needs, experience gained in operating the program, and external reviews.
In 2000, EPA asked the National Research Council to conduct an independent assessment of the STAR program. In response, the Research Council established the Committee to Review EPA’s Research Grants Program, which prepared this report. The committee was given the following task:
The NRC committee will conduct a program review of EPA’s Science To Achieve Results (STAR) competitive extramural research grants program. Using information to be obtained from EPA, STAR grant recipients, and other sources, the committee will assess the program’s scientific merit, its demonstrated or potential impact on the agency’s policies and decisions, and other program benefits that are relevant to EPA’s mission. The committee will recommend ways to enhance the program’s scientific merit, impact, and other benefits. In the context of other relevant research conducted or funded by EPA, and in comparison with other basic and applied research grant programs, this assessment will address the STAR program’s research priorities, research solicitations, peer-review process, ongoing research projects, results and dissemination of completed research, and other aspects to be identified by the committee.
In undertaking its review, the committee held three public sessions in which it heard presentations about the STAR program by EPA officials and others. The EPA officials represented NCER and other EPA research and program offices. The public sessions included presentations by representatives of other federal agencies that support extramural research and by experts in evaluating research programs. Committee members also interviewed STAR project officers and STAR grant and fellowship recipients and attended STAR sponsored workshops and meetings. NCER staff provided the committee with substantial amounts of information regarding the operation and financing of the program.