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goals and results, which is a principal objective of GPRA, must contain an evaluation of research activities and their relevance to the agency's mission.
Recommendation 2: For applied research programs, agencies should measure progress toward practical outcomes. For basic research programs, agencies should measure quality, relevance, and leadership. In addition, agencies should conduct periodic reviews of the overall practical outcomes of an agency's overall past support of applied and basic research. The use of measurements needs to recognize what can and cannot be measured. Misuse of measurement can lead to strongly negative results; for example, measuring basic research on the basis of short-term relevance would be extremely destructive to quality work.
Because the evaluation of applied research is directly connected to practical outcomes, whereas the evaluation of basic research is in terms of quality, relevance, and leadership, which ultimately lead to practical outcomes, there might be a tendency to bias an agency's overall research program toward applied research at the expense of basic research. This should be avoided, and a proper balance should be maintained.
Recommendation 3: Federal agencies should use expert review to assess the quality of research they support, the relevance of that research to their mission, and the leadership of the research. Expert review must strive for balance between having the most knowledgeable and the most independent individuals serve as members. Each agency should develop clear, explicit guidance with regard to structuring and employing expert review processes.