On July 21, the White House directed science agencies to focus research investments on areas of major societal need. In a memo from its Office of Management and Budget, the White House laid out a plan that aims to maximize the return on federal investments in science for the 2012 federal budget.
Asking agencies to “redirect available resources … [away] from lower-priority areas,” the White House identified six research “challenges” in which it would like agencies to invest, including promoting sustainable economic growth and job creation and defeating the most dangerous diseases while reducing health care costs.
In addressing these challenges, agencies will have to evaluate their research programs using “outcome-oriented goals.” To determine whether programs are measuring up, agencies must track investments and outcomes and direct spending toward programs that are high performers.
In another move to maximize the impact of federal research dollars, the White House instructs agencies to “support long-term, visionary thinkers proposing high-risk, high-return (or `potentially transformative’) research” while “accelerating technology commercialization and innovation.”
The White House suggested using “incentive prizes, university-industry partnerships, proof-of-concept centers, and regional innovation clusters” to speed new technologies and products to the marketplace.
The memo, signed by Peter Orzag, director of the OMB, and John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is available here.