The Government Accountability Office has called on the departments of Defense, Energy and Health and Human Services to develop a guidance meant to inform research participants on inherently governmental functions.
GAO said Jan. 20 DoD, DOE and HHS topped the agencies with the highest expenditures for research participant sponsorships under the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education research participation program from fiscal year 2010 through 1014.
Over the five-year period, ORISE program expenditures grew 73 percent and the number of appointments rose to 42 percent across the three departments.
Components within DoD, DOE and HHS provided varying data to employees and research participants about inherently governmental functions based on assessments of the ORISE program’s short-term effectiveness.
Under current federal rules, research participants are prohibited from performing inherently governmental functions.
GAO found that agencies lacked the “methods to track research participants over their careers to determine the extent to which participants’ success is a result of the program.”
The government watchdog also found some projects by research participants that involved activities related to inherently governmental functions.