Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Federal Demonstration Partnership, Phase IV
National Academy of Sciences
September 19, 2002
Good morning. And thank you for the kind welcome.
Let me begin by acknowledging Jack Marburger, Wendy
Baldwin, and Joe Kull.
The support and involvement of OSTP and OMB within
the Federal Demonstration Partnership is critical
to the dialogue and the work of our common goals.
And it goes without saying that NSF and NIH face many
similar challenges - and work closely together and
with the Partnership in addressing them.
I am also happy to see Barbara Siegel, who partners
closely with NSF on management issues through membership
on our Business and Operations Advisory Committee.
A special thanks also goes to all of our colleagues
in the Federal agencies and the university research
community who are doing groundbreaking work.
The National Science Foundation has been an enthusiastic
participant in the Federal Demonstration Partnership
since its inception. Our strong connection to the
FDP reflects NSF's mission:
We invest in people, their ideas, and the tools they
need to do their work. For more than 50 years we have
focused on advancing discovery at the frontiers of
science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
In carrying out this task, NSF has had a longstanding
commitment to constantly improving its administrative
and management operations. We share the FDP goals
of streamlining the grantmaking process and reducing
the administrative burden on researchers.
We all want to encourage the highest possible levels
of research productivity. We all want to increase
the momentum of innovative science and engineering.
At the same time, each of our agencies has a clear
responsibility to the taxpayers to maintain unimpeachable
standards of efficiency and accountability.
These two goals are inseparable.
The FDP partnership is helping us to accomplish these
goals collectively and avoid unintended consequences
in pursuing change.
What a robust collaboration we have created: A forum
that gathers perspectives from university faculty
and research administrators, federal agency program
managers and administrators, and volunteers from supportive
institutions and associations.
The range of this partnership creates a critical mass
that just doesn't happen elsewhere. This alliance
enables us to establish a dialogue, to share insights
and make vital contributions, to take rational risk,
and to support constructive changes that take into
account the impacts of policy and practice on all
NSF is proud of its role in helping to launch the initial
phase of the FDP effort. The Florida Demonstration
Project of 1986 provided valuable feedback from researchers
themselves about how to reduce excessive financial
management, streamline federal, state, and local requirements,
and remove other roadblocks to productivity.
In Phase 2 (from 1988-1996), many more demonstrations
were undertaken. Some FDP initiatives were incorporated
into OMB's revisions of Circulars A-110 and A-21.
During Phase 3 of this effort (from 1996 to the present),
faculty and agency program managers joined, making
FDP notable for representing all stakeholders in the
We are seeing greater accountability, with our university
partners committed to strong internal control of their
We are also seeing increased government interest in
science and engineering research and education programs
and infrastructure, along with an ongoing search for
ways to further reduce the burdens on the research
The National Science Foundation's work with the FDP
helped us achieve "green light" scores for financial
management and e-government on OMB's President's Management
NSF has also been cited in the same OMB/White House
report as "a federal government leader for e-government
and information technology."
These achievements are in large part a reflection of
the risks and experiments we engaged in with the Federal
Demonstration Partnership. The feedback on our systems
- especially Fastlane - was critical, and the work
on e-signatures was groundbreaking.
So you have our gratitude. I want to thank our FDP
colleagues for inspiring NSF to reach for higher goals.
Phase 3 began in 1996, when the Internet was in its
infancy; Phase 4 will take us to 2008. With more than
90 institutional members at over 100 campuses and
10 federal agencies committed to this partnership,
we look forward to increasing federal agency participation.
We also hope to increase the number of Emerging Research
Institution members, including minority-serving institutions
and community colleges.
Building on the ongoing activities of Phase 3 and focusing
on a core group of new initiatives for Phase 4, NSF
is looking forward to contributing to and benefiting
from further gains - both in research productivity
and in effective stewardship of federal resources.
We have many opportunities and challenges ahead in
We will focus on the dynamics of research productivity,
administrative support, and compliance burdens.
We will work to support the President's Management
Agenda and promote e-government initiatives.
We will encourage effective and constructive working
relationships with the audit community.
And we will find ways to increase the involvement of
underrepresented populations in sponsored research.
I want to stress that whether our FDP contribution
occurs in a government agency or a university laboratory,
we can all improve the management of our activities.
As that restless inventor, Thomas Edison, said: "There's
a way to do it better - find it."
We must all make that search a high priority.
At NSF this means that science is not our only frontier,
endless though it may be. Working at the frontier
of management is a prerequisite for the effective
support of cutting edge breakthroughs in science and
"Finding a better way" means taking cognizance of the
symbiosis between these two frontiers. This realization
drives us to conduct experiments to improve efficiency.
For example, NSF has been creating a risk-based framework
for grants management and oversight. We have been
developing practices that build on what we have learned
in our work with you. We will be using Phase 4 efforts
to identify best practices in award administration
to guide our risk assessment activities.
As new technologies emerge, we must all be prepared
for their impact on our processes. We must also be
aware of business practices that succeed in non-governmental
corporate environments, and work to achieve the standards
of efficiency and accountability demanded by our federal
leadership and the public.
As with Vannevar Bush's recognition of science as an
endless frontier, we need to look at best management
practices as a frontier which moves ahead inexorably.
Excellence in this task is not some spot at the top
of a bar graph. Rather, it is an enduring search where
we keep raising the bar higher on ourselves. We all
need to constantly refine the organizational systems
that support science and engineering progress.
One way that our federal agencies can pursue this goal
is to continue our work with the FDP - using the Partnership
as a collective testing ground for new policies, procedures,
and systems prior to full implementation.
I applaud you all for your past contributions and look
forward to our partnership in Phase 4.