How can Congress ensure that the best science continues to be funded, and that a full portfolio of research is maintained? The answer, in large part, is to collect sufficient and relevant data on the research enterprise in the United States, and to see that it is circulated efficiently among decision makers.

The information should include, at a minimum, details on how research moneys are spent, on the scientific work force, on the key elements of the research enterprise itself (how scientists spend their time, and what equipment and facilities they must have), and on the measurable outcomes of federally funded research.

A recent study by the Office of Technology Assessment, requested by Congress, concluded that today's politically competitive environment requires that Congress set priorities in allocating research funds. A rapid growth in the number of researchers, tight constraints on federal...

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