The Committee is aware of continuing concerns within the research community
about NASA support for Research and Data Analysis (R&DA) activities.

The Research and Data Analysis program contributes directly to NASA’s
mandate to engage in effective science and provides the clear scientific
goals and questions which define our nation’s space exploration missions.
The Committee is concerned that shortfalls in R&DA degrade the return from
more visible and expensive programs, while diminishing science capability
and flexibility. Program support costs and internal “taxes” are also
eroding the very marginal increases in these accounts.

The 1998 National Research Council Report “Supporting Research and Data
Analysis in NASA’s Science Programs,” offered significant new findings and
important recommendations for strengthening this activity. These
recommendations have not been enthusiastically embraced by NASA despite
their clear potential for improving R&DA programs. Therefore, the Committee
directs NASA to conduct a joint study with the National Research Council and
the National Academy of Public Administration on the health and resilience
of R&DA. The study shall include: a review of the status in implementing
all six recommendations contained in the 1998 NRC report, barriers to
implementation, and specific guidance on optimal funding levels for R&DA.
The Committee believes a review of the 1998 study will benefit from NAPA’s
involvement. In particular, NAPA will have a beneficial role in guiding a
cost-benefit review of the optimal balance between flight programs and R&DA,
and measuring the effectiveness of management and strategic planning for
R&DA activities. Preliminary findings from the study shall be submitted to
the Committees on Appropriations no later than March 30, 2001.