GAO Adds 5 Priority Recommendations After OSTP Failed to Implement  2021 Changes

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The U.S. Government Accountability Office established eight total priority recommendations for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, after OSTP failed to fully implement last year’s recommendations.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on Friday providing eight priority recommendations to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy aimed at helping the government save money and improve operations.

GAO noted that since its recommendation letter last year, OSTP has not completely implemented any of its priority recommendations. In addition to the three priority recommendations identified in 2021, GAO added five recommendations this year for a total of eight priority recommendations. As of July 2022, the office had 13 open recommendations.

The recommended improvements fall into three categories: strengthening coordination between agencies, managing climate change risks and monitoring progress towards national goals.

In regards to improving interagency coordination, GAO noted the important role that OSTP plays to bring various agencies together, particularly as science and technology affect many agencies. GAO called for the Subcommittee on Open Science and the Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science—along with the OSTP co-chair and other officials—to completely implement best practices for collaboration. GAO also suggested that OSTP create a plan to address data limitations for potentially critical materials.

In order to manage climate change risks, GAO advised OSTP to use the “best available climate information” to make infrastructure more resilient to climate change and to clarify sources of local help—such as local science organizations—to incorporate climate-related information and analytics for federal infrastructure planning.

GAO also made recommendations designed to help agencies improve how they keep track of progress towards national goals related to high-performance computing and advanced manufacturing. In particular, GAO suggested OSTP identify and address characteristics of a national strategy, provide publicly available reports assessing progress made towards carrying out the 2020 strategic plan on the future advanced computing system, as well as identify information to collect from federal agencies to assess how much the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing’s objectives are being satisfied.

Last week’s letter also provided OSTP’s needed actions for each recommendation.