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Dr. Bordogna's Remarks


Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
Federal Demonstration Partnership, Phase IV
National Academy of Sciences
Washington, DC

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 of us.

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 research enterprise.

We are seeing greater accountability, with our university partners committed to strong internal control of their research operations.

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 community.

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 Agenda scorecard.

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 Phase 4.

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 engineering.

"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.

Thank you.



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