The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has given its first priority recommendation letter to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), calling for the office to strengthen interagency collaboration around science and technology issues.

As of June 2021, OSTP had 11 open GAO recommendations across seven different reports from the watchdog agency, and the new priority recommendation letter focuses on three of those open recommendations for OSTP. Amid all of those, however, GAO did acknowledge OSTP has been implementing GAO’s recommendations at a faster rate than other agencies.

“As the challenges of the 21st century grow, it is increasingly important for executive agencies to consider how the Federal government can maximize performance and results through improved collaboration,” GAO’s latest letter says.

“Our prior work has shown that many issues, including those in science and technology, cut across multiple agencies,” GAO said. “In this regard, OSTP plays a critical role in bringing agencies together under the committees and subcommittees of the National Science and Technology Council.”

The first two recommendations call for the OSTP co-chair to work with other relevant co-chairs and agency officials “to fully implement leading practices that enhance and sustain collaboration” as the Subcommittee on Open Science and the Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science move forward.

The third recommendation calls for the Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains, now known as the Subcommittee on Critical Minerals, to “include potentially critical materials beyond minerals, such as developing a plan or strategy for prioritizing additional materials for which actions are needed to address data limitations.”

“This mechanism provides a valuable opportunity for agencies to coordinate on implementing an administration’s research and development priorities and to address crosscutting science and technology issues, such as scientific integrity, public access to federally funded research results, reliability of research results, supply chains for critical materials, and others,” GAO said of its recommendations.

“Strengthening interagency coordination in these areas could help amplify the synergistic effects of related research conducted by different agencies, avoid unnecessary overlapping or duplicative research and development efforts, and facilitate the sharing of lessons learned or coordinating actions to address science and technology issues,” it said.

GAO said it appreciates OSTP’s “continued commitment” to GAO’s recommendations, and looks forward to working with OSTP on the remaining 11 open recommendations.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.