Renewing the Federal Government-University Research Partnership
for the 21st Century
April 27, 1999
Today, President Clinton will direct the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to strengthen the Federal government' s research partnership with American universities and to work with universities to advance shared goals. The President will call on Federal agencies and universities to renew their mutual commitment to the partnership; strengthen the linkages between research and education; and take actions to make the partnership more effective and efficient. The President will release the NSTC report on Renewing the Federal Government-University Research Partnership for the 21st Century.
1) Principles of the Partnership - A Renewed Compact: While Federal laws, circulars, and regulations govern operational aspects of the government-university relationship in areas such as allowable costs, administrative procedures, compliance issues, and audit practices, there is currently no statement of principles to guide the overall relationship. As long as this remains so, the government-university research partnership risks being defined primarily in an ad hoc manner, through detailed accounting, administrative, and financial management requirements, and not by our broader, overarching national goals.
A clearly articulated statement of the principles of the partnership will help clarify the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the government and university partners and establish a framework for addressing future issues as they arise. Ultimately, an agreed upon statement of principles also will serve to shape future discussions, formulate policies, and help guide decision making.
Recommendation: The NSTC will work with the university community to develop a statement of principles of the government-university partnership to clarify the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the parties — namely, funding agencies, universities, individual investigators, and regulatory bodies — and to provide a framework for the development of new policies, rules, regulations, and laws affecting the partnership.
2) Research and Education -- A Seamless Web: The integration of research and education is the hallmark of our American system of universities. An important rationale for the Federal investment in university-based research is the benefit derived from training a new generation of scientists and engineers. When students participate in research they simultaneously gain critical educational and training experience and contribute to the national research enterprise. The integration of research and education is therefore vital to the future of our nation, to our research enterprise, and to our future scientific and engineering workforce.
Recommendation: Government policies and regulations will be revised to reflect the vital and dual roles of students -- undergraduates as well as graduates -- as both researchers who contribute to the national research enterprise, and as students who gain research experience as part of their training.
3) Reinvent the Rules of the Partnership to Make it More Effective and Efficient: The report found numerous instances where guidelines and regulations, which in many ways provide the administrative framework for the partnership, were found wanting. These ranged from how the costs of research are allocated, to the paperwork requirements for grants, to environment and safety regulations. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the partnership, a proper balance must be struck between government oversight and the conduct of research.
Recommendation: The President will direct the NSTC to foster a more productive policy, regulatory, and administrative environment and to promote cost and administrative efficiencies while maintaining accountability for public funds.
Selected Facts And Figures About The Importance Of University-Based Research