oversight

Results Act: Observations on the National Science Foundation's Draft Strategic Plan

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-07-11.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                     United States
GAO                  General Accounting Office
                     Washington, D.C. 20548

                     Resources, Community, and
                     Economic Development Division

                     B-277424

                     July 11, 1997

                     The Honorable Richard K. Armey
                     Majority Leader
                     House of Representatives

                     The Honorable John Kasich
                     Chairman, Committee on the Budget
                     House of Representatives

                     The Honorable Dan Burton
                     Chairman, Committee on Government
                       Reform and Oversight
                     House of Representatives

                     The Honorable Bob Livingston
                     Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
                     House of Representatives

                     Subject: Results Act: Observations on the National Science Foundation’s
                     Draft Strategic Plan

                     On June 12, 1997, you asked us to review the draft strategic plans
                     submitted by the Cabinet departments and selected major agencies for
                     consultation with the Congress as required by the Government
                     Performance and Results Act of 1993 (the Results Act). This report is our
                     response to that request concerning the draft strategic plan for the
                     National Science Foundation (NSF).


                     We agreed to review NSF’s draft plan and assess (1) whether it fulfills the
Objectives, Scope,   requirements of the Results Act and to provide our views on its overall
and Methodology      quality; (2) whether it reflects NSF’s key statutory authorities; (3) whether
                     it reflects interagency coordination for crosscutting programs, activities,
                     or functions that are similar or complementary to other federal agencies’;
                     and (4) whether NSF’s data and information systems are providing
                     adequate information for measuring results. You also asked us to assess
                     whether the draft plan addresses the management problems we have
                     previously identified. Because we have not reported on NSF’s management
                     problems in the past, this report will not address that issue.




                     Page 1                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
             B-277424




             We reviewed the most recent draft strategic plan—dated June 9,
             1997—provided to congressional committees. Our overall assessment of
             NSF’s draft strategic plan was generally based on our knowledge of NSF’s
             programs and operations, our discussions with NSF’s Assistant to the
             Director for Science Policy and Planning and the Deputy Director, Office
             of Legislative and Public Affairs, and other existing information available
             at the time of our assessment.

             Specifically, the criteria we used to determine whether NSF’s draft strategic
             plan complies with the requirements of the Results Act were the Results
             Act itself and the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) guidance on
             developing the plans (Circular A-11, Part 2). To make judgments about the
             overall quality of the plan and its components, we used our May 1997
             guidance for congressional review of the plans (GAO/GGD-10.1.16) as a tool.
             To determine whether the plan contains information on interagency
             coordination, we relied on our general knowledge of federal science
             agencies’ operations and programs and the results of our previous reports.
             In determining whether NSF’s draft strategic plan reflects its major
             statutory responsibilities, as you requested, we coordinated our review
             with the Congressional Research Service. To determine whether NSF has
             adequate systems in place to provide reliable information on performance,
             we relied on information provided by the Foundation’s Office of Inspector
             General (OIG).

             It is also important to recognize that NSF’s final plan is not due to the
             Congress and OMB until September 1997. Furthermore, the Results Act
             anticipated that it may take several planning cycles to perfect the process
             and that the final plan will continue to be refined as future planning cycles
             occur. Thus, our comments are a snapshot of the plan at this time. We
             recognize that developing a strategic plan is a dynamic process and that
             NSF is continuing to work to revise the draft with input from OMB,
             congressional staff, and other stakeholders.

             Our work was performed in June and July 1997. We obtained comments on
             a draft of this report from NSF. Its comments are in enclosure I.


             NSF is an independent federal agency created by the National Science
Background   Foundation Act of 1950 (P.L. 81-507). Its aim is to promote and advance
             scientific and engineering progress in the United States. The idea of such a
             foundation was an outgrowth of the important contributions made by
             science and technology during World War II. Since that time, NSF has been



             Page 2                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                   B-277424




                   responsible for the overall well-being of science and engineering across all
                   disciplines. In contrast, other federal agencies support research focused
                   on specific missions, such as health or defense. NSF is also committed to
                   help ensure the nation’s supply of scientists, engineers, and science
                   educators through the financial support of education and research.

                   NSF funds research and education in the areas of science and engineering
                   through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000
                   colleges, universities, and other research institutions. NSF receives about
                   53,000 requests for funding (both new and renewal projects) each year and
                   makes about 20,000 awards. The agency operates no laboratories itself but
                   does support National Research Centers, certain oceanographic vessels,
                   and Antarctic research stations. It also supports cooperative research
                   between universities and industry and U.S. participation in international
                   scientific efforts.

                   NSF has been involved in strategic planning efforts since 1992, when the
                   National Science Board Commission on the Future of the NSF was
                   established. The board established national science and technology goals
                   that later became the basis for NSF’s 1994 strategic plan. The plan was
                   developed with input and support from in-house staff and advisory bodies.
                   NSF views the Results Act plan as its implementation strategy for the goals
                   set forth in its 1995 strategic plan.

                   The Results Act requires that an agency’s strategic plan contain the
                   following six critical elements: (1) a comprehensive mission statement;
                   (2) agencywide long-term goals and objectives for all major functions and
                   operations; (3) approaches (or strategies) and the various resources
                   needed to achieve the goals and objectives; (4) the relationship between
                   the long-term goals and objectives and the annual performance goals;
                   (5) an identification of key factors, external to the agency and beyond its
                   control, that could significantly affect the achievement of the strategic
                   goals; and (6) a description of how program evaluations were used to
                   establish or revise strategic goals and a schedule for future program
                   evaluations.


                   NSF’s draft strategic plan is incomplete and not specific enough to allow
Results in Brief   the Congress to evaluate whether the agency’s goals are achievable. The
                   draft strategic plan addresses aspects of five of six required elements.
                   However, three of the five elements are not yet complete—goals and
                   objectives, strategies for achieving goals, and how program evaluation was



                   Page 3                               GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
B-277424




used. Furthermore, NSF did not include one key element—external factors
that could affect the achievement of the plan’s goals. Because the plan is
incomplete, the Congress is missing critical information for its
consultations with NSF.

NSF’s draft strategic plan appears to reflect the consideration of its key
statutory authority, the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as
amended. We note, however, that NSF is subject to other statutes related to
its core functions; these other statutes broaden the scope of its
responsibilities. NSF could provide useful information by describing its
responsibilities under these other statutes when its plan includes goals
and objectives based on them.

NSF’s draft strategic plan acknowledges the crosscutting nature of its work.
However, the draft plan does not show evidence of interagency
coordination. While the strategic plan emphasizes the importance of NSF’s
many partners in the research and education enterprise, it does not
identify who these partners are or provide sufficient information to
determine the extent to which NSF’s and its partners’ functions are
duplicative or overlapping.

While we have not analyzed NSF’s data and information systems,
inadequacies in both financial information and information technology at
NSF have been identified by NSF’s Office of Inspector General. NSF’s OIG and
an independent public accounting firm completed the first audit of NSF’s
consolidated, agencywide fiscal year 1996 Statement of Financial Position
(balance sheet). Except for inadequate documentation to support the
reported amounts for property, plant, and equipment, the auditors
concluded that NSF’s assets, liabilities, and net position are reliable. (No
audit was performed on the 1996 Statement of Operations and Changes in
Net Position. Therefore, the reliability of NSF’s revenue and expense
information is uncertain. It is our understanding that this information will
be audited for fiscal year 1997.) In addition, the auditors found that NSF
had not yet met the requirements in the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act
to develop an integrated agency accounting and financial management
system that provides for reporting cost information and the systematic
measurement of performance. Furthermore, linkages between NSF’s
technology and its programs’ missions and goals were not included in its
strategic plan.




Page 4                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                            B-277424




                            While five of the six required elements are addressed, at least four of them
NSF’s Strategic Plan        need further development, and the sixth element—key external factors—is
Partly Fulfills the         not included in the current draft. NSF’s draft plan is not specific enough to
Requirements of the         allow the Congress to evaluate whether NSF’s goals and objectives are
                            achievable. In its plan, the Foundation describes itself as an investment
Results Act                 agent, setting its mission, goals, and supporting strategies toward the
                            performance of its investment portfolios through grants, contracts, and
                            cooperative agreements. The draft plan indicates that NSF’s annual
                            performance goals for results will appear as descriptive standards, as
                            allowed by the Results Act’s option to set performance goals in an
                            alternative format. The draft plan also indicates that the performance
                            goals for process will be largely quantitative. A brief section on the use of
                            program evaluation in establishing strategic goals is included. NSF also
                            included a section in its plan that discusses the processes and essential
                            coordination functions managed by NSF staff that must operate effectively
                            if NSF’s outcome goals are to be met. In this section, the Foundation
                            addresses other factors critical to the successful management of the
                            agency.


NSF Addresses               NSF’s mission statement focuses on strengthening the nation’s potential for
Requirements for Its        research and education in science and engineering. Included with its
Mission Statement           mission statement are those areas initiated and supported by NSF pursuant
                            to its core statutory responsibilities. These are: basic scientific and
                            engineering research; programs strengthening scientific and engineering
                            research potential; science and engineering education; and an information
                            and policy base for science and engineering. The section on NSF’s mission
                            statement and the supporting text is comprehensive and results-oriented
                            and fulfills public needs and statutory responsibilities. Although brief, it
                            defines the basic purpose of the agency, focusing particularly on its core
                            programs and activities.


Goals and Objectives Are    The draft plan sets out three overarching goals intended to guide NSF’s
Defined in the Draft Plan   strategic direction, as well as four broadly worded outcome goals. The
                            overarching goals do not represent the unique functions and operations of
                            NSF. The draft plan states that these goals cannot be achieved unilaterally.
                            According to NSF’s Deputy Director, Office of Legislative and Public
                            Affairs, the overarching goals were developed by the National Science
                            Board 3 years ago in the context of a broader effort to establish goals for
                            all science agencies.




                            Page 5                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                              B-277424




                              The outcome goals set out the long-term programmatic, policy, and
                              management goals to be accomplished through NSF’s program office
                              investments. Because many of these goals are not expressed in a
                              measurable form, it is unclear whether the Foundation and the Congress
                              will be able to assess whether the goals are achieved. While in some cases
                              these goals provide the immediate context for NSF’s investment decisions,
                              in other cases they do not. For example, one goal is to encourage
                              “improved achievement in the essential mathematics and science skills
                              needed by all Americans.” The achievement of this goal is targeted at
                              results over which NSF has a reasonable degree of influence—instructional
                              materials developed through NSF awards, for example. However, another
                              stated goal seeks “discoveries at and across the frontier of science and
                              engineering.” It is unclear how NSF will be able to assess whether this goal
                              is achieved. When goals are defined in a way that precludes a direct, future
                              determination of achievement, the performance goals and indicators in the
                              annual performance plan should be used to provide the basis for the
                              assessment, according to OMB Circular A-11. Therefore, NSF may want to
                              elaborate on how it is achieving certain goals in its performance plan.


Strategies to Achieve NSF’s   NSF’s plan provides some general dates for achieving its goals but does not
Goals Lack Precision          provide the underlying assumptions, projections, or a schedule for
                              initiating or completing significant actions. Also lacking is the process for
                              communicating goals and objectives throughout the agency and for
                              assigning accountability to managers and staff for the achievement of
                              goals.

                              Each of NSF’s four outcome goals is supported by three to four investment
                              strategies. For example, the first goal is to encourage “discoveries at and
                              across the frontier of science and engineering.” The draft plan identifies
                              four key investment strategies to meet this goal. The first strategy is to
                              “seek out the most innovative ideas, actively shaping the portfolio in ways
                              that influence capabilities for the future.” NSF officials agree that it would
                              be helpful if the language were more specific. One way to achieve
                              specificity may be to link the stated outcome goals to the relevant
                              statutory objective. Although the Results Act does not require such a
                              linkage, including such information may help NSF management to better
                              formulate its goals. It could also facilitate constructive consultation
                              between the agency and the congressional oversight committees about the
                              agency’s goals and its priorities for achieving them.




                              Page 6                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                         B-277424




                         Although not discussed in detail in NSF’s plan, a single investment can
                         work toward many of the outcome goals articulated. For example, goal
                         three is to achieve “a diverse, productive globally-oriented workforce of
                         scientists and engineers.” NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development
                         (Career) program for junior-level faculty members at colleges and
                         universities encourages them to contribute to research and education
                         early in their careers. The Career program supports research that leads to
                         linking discovery and learning, one of the supporting strategies for NSF’s
                         first goal. Moreover, according to NSF, frequently the most original and
                         innovative ideas come from young scientists whose ideas are often of
                         interest to industry and to other agencies. Thus, investments made through
                         this program may also support the outcome goals for discoveries and
                         connections.


The Plan Addresses the   As required by OMB’s guidance, NSF’s draft plan outlines the type of
Relationship Between     performance goals to be included in its performance plan. Performance
NSF’s Long-Term Goals    goals for NSF will include (1) quantitative goals measuring the process of
                         investing in or facilitating research and education projects, as well as
and Annual Performance   performance goals for facilities operations, and (2) descriptive standards
Goals                    for assessing the results of NSF’s investments at an aggregate level. The
                         relationship between the performance goals and NSF’s outcome goals is
                         described briefly as is the relevance and use of performance goals in
                         helping to determine the achievement of general goals and objectives. In
                         addition, the plan addresses the linkage between NSF’s budget and its
                         annual performance plan. Performance plans for an upcoming year are to
                         be developed in the light of the analysis of past performance, an
                         assessment of how recent or projected changes in the investment portfolio
                         will influence future performance, and how the portfolio fits with the
                         outcome goals identified in the strategic plan.

                         As we have reported in the past, the very nature of the innovative process
                         makes measuring the performance of science-related activities difficult,
                         since outcomes may not be seen for many years.1 An NSF official told us
                         that the alternative form of performance assessment for the agency’s
                         annual performance plan should provide some basis for assessing whether
                         NSF’s goals have been met. According to information on a 1995 NSF
                         discussion paper,2 the ultimate outcomes of NSF’s programs, such as new

                         1
                          Managing for Results: Key Steps and Challenges in Implementing GPRA in Science Agencies
                         (GAO/T-GGD/RCED-96-214, July 10, 1996).
                         2
                         National Science Foundation Case Study: Development and Use of Outcome Information by the
                         National Science Foundation (Oct. 25, 1996).



                         Page 7                                          GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                           B-277424




                           technologies or improved quality of life, are too far from NSF’s sphere of
                           influence to be used for setting performance goals. As a result, the
                           discussion paper argues that NSF would need to manage toward
                           intermediate outcomes, such as major new conceptual frameworks,
                           enduring partnerships, and cadres of trained technical talent, all of which
                           involve qualitative elements not lending themselves to quantitative
                           indicators. NSF has focused its efforts on developing outcome indicators,
                           as encouraged by the Results Act.


NSF’s Plan Does Not        NSF’s draft plan neither addresses key external factors nor describes how
Discuss External Factors   achieving particular goals could be affected by external factors. Such
That Could Affect Goal     factors as the extent to which schools and universities emphasize
                           mathematics and science or subsidize faculty research are influences
Achievement                outside of NSF’s control. These influences could affect NSF’s realization of
                           its goal aimed at improving the achievement of mathematics and science
                           skills needed by all Americans, or its goal of making discoveries at and
                           across the frontier of science and engineering. Therefore, the
                           identification of these factors and related actions that could reduce or
                           ameliorate their potential impact could be useful in the Congress’s review
                           of and NSF’s implementation of the strategic plan.


NSF’s Plan Lacks a         NSF’s draft plan does not discuss how the agency used specific program
Complete Description of    evaluations to develop its strategic goals or the other components of the
How Program Evaluations    plan. However, beginning in fiscal year 1998, the plan indicates that the
                           Foundation will structure its internal and external assessment processes
Will Be Used and a         using this strategic plan and the performance plan and that performance
Schedule for Future        reports will be requested annually from all NSF units. Further details are
Program Evaluations        needed on a schedule for future evaluations, the scope of and
                           methodology for future evaluations, and how the findings could be useful
                           in assessing NSF’s goals and performance plans.


                           NSF’sdraft plan highlights the agency’s core responsibilities under the
Statutory                  National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-507), as amended.
Responsibilities Are       However, the draft plan does not mention additional authorities given to
Generally Reflected in     NSF under the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act, Title I of
                           the Education for Economic Security Act, or other related legislation, such
NSF’s Strategic Plan       as that concerning polar research and conservation. Although these
                           mandates are not specifically mentioned, the core responsibilities appear
                           general enough to encompass the additional responsibilities. Nonetheless,



                           Page 8                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                        B-277424




                        it might be helpful if NSF provided a list, as a supplement to its plan, of its
                        statutory authorities and the major responsibilities that flow from such
                        legislation.


                        NSF’s draft plan does not identify specific programs and activities that are
Crosscutting            crosscutting or similar to those of other federal agencies. The draft plan
Functions Are Not       does briefly describe the role NSF plays in the federal science and
Adequately              engineering enterprise. Although NSF captures investment opportunities
                        across the spectrum of science, mathematics, and engineering to influence
Recognized in the       the nation’s capabilities in all aspects of these endeavors, the plan
Strategic Plan          provides little evidence to suggest that interagency coordination occurred
                        to address the potential issues of duplication and overlap. Because
                        overlapping and fragmented programs can waste scarce funds, confuse
                        and frustrate program customers, and limit the overall effectiveness of the
                        federal effort, it is important for NSF to address crosscutting programs in
                        its plan.

                        In the science and technology area, where the federal government spent
                        $60 billion in fiscal year 1996 and the potential for unnecessary overlap is
                        particularly high, close coordination is essential. The Foundation’s mission
                        includes promoting the progress of science, and one of its overarching
                        goals is to enable the United States to uphold a position of world
                        leadership in all aspects of science, mathematics, and engineering.
                        However, our review of other agencies’ draft strategic plans identified the
                        following examples of agencies with missions that could potentially
                        overlap NSF’s mission:

                    •   The Department of Energy’s (DOE) science mission is to maintain
                        leadership in basic research and to advance scientific knowledge.
                    •   The Department of Commerce’s mission includes keeping America
                        competitive with cutting-edge science and technology.

                        There are additional examples of potential overlap among federal
                        agencies. NSF’s authorizing legislation directs it to initiate and support
                        science and engineering education programs at all levels and in all fields of
                        science and engineering. Similarly, DOE’s draft strategic plan states that it
                        will use its laboratories and the nation’s universities to contribute to the
                        nation’s science and mathematics education.

                        According to NSF’s Assistant to the Director for Science Policy and
                        Planning, the Foundation participates in a number of groups such as the



                        Page 9                                  GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                        B-277424




                        National Science and Technology Council, the Committee on Fundamental
                        Science, and the Research Roundtable. While one purpose of the groups is
                        to coordinate, NSF’s draft plan neither mentions these groups nor the
                        frequency of their discussions. However, relating NSF’s strategic plan to
                        other agencies’ crosscutting programs would enhance the Congress’s
                        ability to assess any concerns about potential overlap and duplication.


                        While NSF’s draft plan recognizes the importance of information
NSF’s Plan DOEs Not     technology, the draft plan could benefit from a clearer and more detailed
Fully Address Its       discussion of how it specifically intends to use information technology to
Capacity to Provide     improve performance, to reduce costs, and ultimately to achieve its
                        missions, goals, and objectives. Furthermore, NSF’s draft plan does not
Reliable Information    address the “year 2000 problem” (which requires that computer systems be
on the Achievement of   changed to accommodate dates beyond the year 1999) or significant
                        weaknesses in information security—two issues that we have identified as
Strategic Goals         high risk across government.

                        Recent information technology reform legislation, including the
                        Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, set
                        forth requirements that promote more efficient and effective use of
                        information technology in support of agencies’ missions and of improved
                        program performance. Under these acts, agencies are to better link their
                        technology plans and information technology use to their programs’
                        missions and goals.

                        According to officials in NSF’s OIG, one of NSF’s primary financial
                        management challenges is to prepare and audit consolidated, agencywide
                        financial statements, as required by the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act
                        and the Government Management Reform Act of 1994. Financial
                        statements are required to be prepared and audited to instill greater
                        accountability and to provide reliable financial information for formulating
                        budgets, managing government and program operations, and making
                        difficult policy decisions. NSF received a qualified opinion on its fiscal year
                        1996 statement of financial position because of inadequate documentation
                        for property, plant, and equipment in the possession of its contractors and
                        grantees. (No audit was performed on the 1996 Statement of Operations
                        and Changes in Net Position. Therefore, the reliability of NSF’s revenue and
                        expense information is uncertain. It is our understanding that this
                        information will be audited for fiscal year 1997.) Reliable information on
                        investments in the property assets used to carry out agency’s mission is an
                        essential part of performance measurement.



                        Page 10                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                     B-277424




                     In addition, to support the Results Act’s implementation and to ensure that
                     NSF is complying with federal cost-accounting system standards, the
                     Foundation will need to relate costs to financial and program performance
                     data. Key requirements of the CFO Act are the development of cost
                     information to enable the systematic measurement of performance and the
                     integrations of systems (i.e., program, accounting, and budget systems).
                     NSF plans to modify its cost-accounting system to support reporting on the
                     Results Act once its strategic plan is approved.


                     We provided a draft of this report to the National Science Foundation for
Agency Comments      its review and comment. (NSF’s comments appear in enc. I.) In general, NSF
and Our Evaluation   agreed that additional information on two of the required elements would
                     be useful and provided additional context to explain NSF’s approach to
                     meeting the remaining requirements of the Results Act. NSF stated its
                     intention to update its draft plan by providing additional detail on the
                     external factors that could influence its ability to meet its goals; current
                     and future program evaluation efforts and their contributions to the
                     formulation of investment strategies; and how NSF addresses issues of
                     potential duplication and overlap and its appropriate role in interagency
                     activities. In regard to information technology, we believe that the
                     implementation of the tenets of the Clinger-Cohen and Paperwork
                     Reduction Acts is essential to effectively using information technology to
                     improve performance and carry out an agency’s mission, goals, and
                     objectives. Successfully addressing “year 2000” problems is also critical. It
                     is therefore important for NSF, in its strategic plan, to articulate how it
                     plans to use information technology in meeting these key challenges.

                     While we questioned the measurability of NSF’s outcome goals, NSF believes
                     that by using expert judgment (peer review) to assess a range of factors
                     about a project’s results, it can appraise whether the observed outcomes
                     meet the stated goals. We agree that quantitative and qualitative indicators
                     are widely used as proxies to assess research and development (R&D)
                     results because of the difficulties in identifying the impacts of research.
                     Yet, while implying a degree of precision, these indicators were not
                     originally intended to measure long-term R&D results. Furthermore, while
                     peer review provides detailed information, it relies on the subjective
                     decisions of individuals and can be expensive.3




                     3
                       Measuring Performance: Challenges in Evaluating Research and Development (GAO/T-RCED-97-130,
                     Apr. 10, 1997).



                     Page 11                                        GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
B-277424




As arranged with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days after the
date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; the Ranking Minority
Members of your Committees and the Chairmen and Ranking Minority
Members of the other Committees that have jurisdiction over NSF; the
Director of NSF; and the Director, Office of Management and Budget. We
will send copies to others on request.

Please call me at (202) 512-3841 if you or your staff have any questions
concerning this letter.




Victor S. Rezendes
Director, Energy, Resources,
  and Science Issues

Enclosure




Page 12                                GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
Page 13   GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
Enclosure I

Comments From the National Science
Foundation




              Page 14      GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
             Enclosure I
             Comments From the National Science
             Foundation




Now on
pp. 5 & 6.




See p. 8.




See p. 8.




See p. 8.




             Page 15                              GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
                   Enclosure I
                   Comments From the National Science
                   Foundation




See pp. 9 & 10.




See pp. 10 & 11.




(141077)           Page 16                              GAO/RCED-97-203R NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 37050
Washington, DC 20013

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (202) 512-6061, or TDD (202) 512-2537.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

http://www.gao.gov




PRINTED ON    RECYCLED PAPER
United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested