PRESIDENT CLINTON: STRENGTHENING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT-UNIVERSITY
December 29, 2000
"More than any other nation in the world, we rely on a partnership
between our government and our public and private research
universities to conduct research that improves our economy, health,
and national security, while also training our future science and
technology workforce. It is vitally important that this
partnership be equitable and effective to sustain U.S. leadership
across the frontiers of scientific knowledge."
President Bill Clinton
December 29, 2000
Research and education lie at the heart of this Administration's
investment in America's future. That is why President Clinton has
issued an Executive Order that strengthens the research partnership
between American universities and the Federal government. The Executive
Order establishes the principles that will provide the framework for the
development and analysis of future Federal policies and regulations for
the government-university research partnership. It also directs the
Office of Science and Technology Policy to conduct regular reviews of
the research partnership in full consultation with all stakeholders.
One of the hallmarks of the U.S. research enterprise is the reliance on
public and private universities to perform basic research in the
national interest. Government supported basic research at our nation's
universities represents a dual investment in the future of the nation:
helping to assure the health, security, and quality of life of our
citizens, while also training our future scientific and technical
workforce. Recognizing the importance of the synergy in this
relationship and of its continued effectiveness, the President has
established a set of principles to serve as a sound foundation for this
For the first time the common goals, rationale and objectives of the
partnership are set forth. They are incorporated in four guiding
Research Is an Investment in the Future. Government sponsorship of
university research -- not only to conduct research, but also to train
the next generation of scientists and engineers -- is an investment in
the future of the nation, helping to assure the health, security, and
quality of life of our citizens.
The Linkage Between Research and Education Is Vital. The
integration of research and education is the hallmark and strength of
our nation's universities. The intellectual development and scientific
contributions of students who participate in Federally-sponsored
research are among the most important benefits of publicly-supported
Excellence Is Promoted When Investments are Guided by Merit Review.
A well-designed merit review system rewards quality and productivity in
research, and can accommodate endeavors that are high-risk that have the
potential for high pay-off.
Research Must Be Conducted with Integrity. The ethical obligations
entailed in accepting public funds in the conduct of research are of the
highest order. The credibility of the collective enterprise relies on
the integrity of each of its participants.
The following operating principles are intended to assist agencies,
universities, individual investigators, and auditing and regulatory
bodies in implementing the guiding principles:
Agency Cost Sharing Policies and Practices Must be Transparent.
Agencies should be clear about their cost sharing policies and announce
when and how cost sharing will figure in selection processes, including
explicit information regarding the amount of cost sharing expected.
Partners Should Respect the Merit Review Process. Excellence in
science is promoted when all parties adhere to merit review as the basis
for distributing Federal funds for research projects and refrain from
seeking Federal funds through non-merit-based means.
Agencies and Universities Should Manage Research in a
Cost-Efficient Manner. The goal of all those involved in sponsoring,
performing, administering, regulating, and auditing university-based
research and associated educational activities of the research
enterprise should be to make maximum resources available for the
performance of research and education.
Accountability and Accounting Are Not the Same. The principal
measure of accountability must be the research results and whether the
work was consistent with the original scope of the proposed research.
Equally important, but different, are sound financial accounting
methods, which are important to assure research sponsors that public
funds have been used properly to achieve the goals in a cost-effective
The Benefits of Simplicity in Policies and Practices Should Be
Weighed Against the Costs. When it comes to simplicity in regulatory,
accounting, and administrative practices the goal is to maximize the
impact of each research dollar spent. Therefore, one size doesn't
necessarily fit all.
Change Should be Justified by Need and the Process Made
Transparent. The process of change in the government-university
partnership should be made as transparent as possible. Modifications in
administrative, regulatory, auditing requirements, or in cost sharing
expectations, should be kept as infrequent as possible but consistent
with the need to respond to changing circumstances.