Sneak Preview: OSTP Advised To Reduce STEM Program Overlap

February 23, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Because several federal agencies provide funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs, the Government Accountability Office urged the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to provide governmentwide guidance to help agencies avoid overlapping efforts so that federal funds can be used more efficiently.

In fiscal year 2010, about $3 billion was appropriated by 13 federal agencies for 209 programs designed to increase knowledge of STEM fields and help individuals obtain STEM degrees. However, the GAO found that 83 percent of those programs overlapped with at least one other program by offering similar services to the same target groups to achieve similar objectives.

For example, both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Minority University Research and Education Program and the Department of Commerce’s Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program offer scholarships and other services to underrepresented and underserved students in overlapping STEM fields, although each focuses on preparing students to work in fields that support the science mission of their agency.

“Even when programs overlap, the services they provide and the populations they serve may differ in meaningful ways and would therefore not necessarily be duplicative,” the GAO found. “Nonetheless, the programs are similar enough that they need to be well-coordinated and guided by a robust strategic plan.”

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