OSTP Only Tackled 1 of 8 High Risk Recommendations in Past Year, Watchdog Finds

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The Office of Science and Technology Policy has seven high-risk open recommendations to address, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy has made progress to implement the Government Accountability Office’s high-risk priority recommendations, but it still has work to do to address all of them, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report noted that OSTP has implemented one recommendation from last year, but GAO has seven more priority recommendations for OSTP to implement. Specifically, OSTP took steps to implement best practices to improve and sustain collaboration in its Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science. The remaining open priority recommendations fall into three categories: strengthening interagency collaboration, managing climate change risks and tracking progress towards national goals.

GAO asserted that if OSTP addresses these issues it could lead to operational improvements, such as boosting coordination for research and development priorities; addressing science and technology issues; strengthening interagency climate efforts; and enhancing performance management and service delivery. 

Specifically, GAO recommended that OSTP:

  • Fully implement best practices for collaboration, such as defining and clearly stating a common goal and outcome; agreeing on roles and responsibilities; and creating ways to monitor, evaluate and report the results.
  • Create a plan to address data limitations for possibly critical materials.
  • Determine the best available climate information for infrastructure planning purposes.
  • Clarify local sources to help incorporate climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning.
  • Address elements of a national strategy for high-performance computing, including developing performance measures and identifying necessary resources.
  • Create annual reports on high-performance computing to assess progress made to implement the 2020 strategic plan.
  • Identify necessary information to collect from federal agencies to decide whether the objectives in the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing are being met.

GAO noted that one of the high-risk areas—limiting the federal government’s fiscal exposure by better managing climate change risks—is for OSTP and other agencies to address. Additionally, there are other high-risk areas not specific to the office that will impact OSTP, such as: improving IT acquisitions and operations management; improving strategic human capital management; managing federal real property; ensuring national cybersecurity; and managing governmentwide personnel security clearance process. 

For these previously made recommendations, OSTP agreed with some of them and did not comment or state its agreement with others.