STAR METRICS Full Steam Forward!

October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Posted on Behalf of Stefano Bertuzzi (National Institute of Health) and Julia Lane (National Science Foundation)

The STAR METRICS program is a voluntary collaboration among federal science and technology (S&T) agencies and research institutions. It is the first large scale effort to document the results of federal S&T investments by directly linking inputs and outputs, beginning by using direct calculations from the administrative records of research institutions.

The number of research institutions participating in the STAR METRICS project is rapidly growing and it is now around 80. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have also joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as federal partners. Moreover, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has agreed to join STAR METRICS in FY 2012.

The STAR METRICS consortium  is working on an aggregate jobs report, which describes a new methodology to provide evidence about the jobs immediately supported by current expenditures associated with grants made by the federal government to researchers at 68 participating research institutions. The STAR METRICS system has identified four basic ways in which these expenditures can immediately be linked to jobs. The system can be used to count the number of individuals and full time employees directly employed on a federal grant; trace expenditures that go to collaborating institutions as well as expenditures that go to purchase scientific supplies from vendors; and track the money that research institutions use to provide the infrastructure necessary for science, including financial, IT, and janitorial services.

During the August doldrums, under the sponsorship of the Research Business Model (RBM) and Science of Science Policy interagency working groups, a new initiative sprung up: the Federal-Wide Researcher Profile. The federal-wide profile system will provide several opportunities for different stakeholders. For example, it will help reduce burden on researchers by pre-populating federal forms and more efficiently find expertise and help understand what science is being funded and carried out. This feature, once developed (it will take some time, given the complexities involved), could be of particular relevance for STAR METRICS as one important source of data together with many others.

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