In its role providing expert technical and analytic support to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and a growing number of other government organizations, STPI addresses S&T issues in a wide range of areas.
At the request of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, STPI provides scientific and technical support for the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).
STPI's economic research assesses the outcomes and impacts of alternative government policies and programs, particularly those related to ways in which science and technology can foster U.S. economic prosperity and competitiveness. Standards of living and economic growth can be enhanced by government action that minimizes information asymmetries, provides public goods that are undersupplied in the market, and adjusts incentives for firms and consumers to purchase or produce goods and services.
At an aggregate level, STPI has assessed industrial base issues, such as sector production capabilities and labor skill concerns, industry-derived measures of innovation, and other intangibles. STPI's role in identifying proper metrics for return on investment enables the government to make better funding decisions in significant areas such as federal research and development as well as efforts to create better measures of innovation.
STPI conducts a spectrum of energy analyses designed to assist the federal government in strategic planning. STPI's energy research specializes in gap analysis, program evaluation, and policy analysis. In addition, STPI contributes to the development of analytical tools that surpass the traditional cost-benefit model by accounting for the private and social costs of various energy portfolios.
The group's efforts go beyond traditional evaluations of energy programs by reviewing the ethical, social, and behavioral implications, such as the privacy and data stewardship for the management of energy consumption data. STPI's expertise includes analyses of agency and federal laboratory budgets, as well as development of performance metrics to facilitate evaluation and comparisons.
Natural resource management, environmental impacts on public health and safety, and climate change are major concerns of the U.S. government. Solving the many environmental problems that face the nation requires scientific and technical development as well as behavioral science research. STPI's environmental expertise includes climate mitigation and adaptation, public health, evaluation and decision analysis, and policy and risk assessment.
Methodologically, STPI employs current evaluation approaches and quantitative decision analysis tools to assess the value of environmental research and regulation, as well as aiding researchers and regulators in setting priorities.
STPI's evaluation methods and scientometrics research area encompasses several themes, including analysis of research and development (R&D) portfolios, evaluation of research programs, and design and performance of system evaluations.
R&D portfolio analyses identify areas of overlaps or gaps in funded research efforts, compare an organization's funded research efforts either with others' efforts or against an external benchmark, or describe a portfolio and its outcomes. STPI's evaluations of S&T funding programs have focused on the value of the center mechanism, research infrastructure, and research capacity development.
The scientometrics activities at STPI include assessing data collection and reporting mechanisms for research, analyzing and designing tools for displaying research portfolios, developing methodologies for assessing the outcomes of scientific research, and improving government-wide data collection and measurement capabilities.
STPI's expertise in collaboration, information, and telecommunication technologies spans the human, technical, and transformative impacts of these technologies at micro and macro levels of society. STPI's experts support the development and evaluation of S&T policy, guiding the use of information communications technologies in areas of domestic and international importance, such as education, banking, and disaster relief.
Innovation and Competitiveness
STPI's innovation and competitiveness work spans benchmarking S&T indicators, evaluating R&D funding programs, and assessing the impacts of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics training and workforce preparedness on U.S. competitiveness. STPI has contributed to the ongoing dialogue concerning innovation indicator development by assessing industry's measurement of intangibles and documenting national and international indicators.
STPI's research programs provide feedback to identify the programs' outcomes and, more broadly, to work towards a more theoretical understanding and better metrics of innovative research. Furthermore, STPI looks at the role of the federal government in promoting regional innovation by promoting research centers, workshops, and investment in the academic community.
STPI's life sciences research operates at the intersection of numerous disciplines, including biomedical research, the health sciences, organizational management, and strategic planning. In many of STPI's life sciences projects, STPI guides multi-disciplinary groups of experts from government and academia to develop recommendations and implementation plans for improving various aspects of disease-related clinical and translational research. This effort involves creating analytical tools to define problems, pose questions, and identify potential solutions that foster consensus on required actions.
National and Homeland Security
Science and technology provide one of the essential foundations for homeland and national security. In addition to more traditional areas, such as weapons effects and border protection, STPI defines homeland and national security broadly to include such areas as science diplomacy, education, economics, energy, and domestic and foreign research and development.
International Science and Technology
Research in national security and international affairs at STPI includes investigating the impact of technology, infrastructure, and policy changes on homeland defense and international treaties. As these studies transcend traditional disciplines, researchers at STPI consult with experts from a wide range of fields, including physical and life scientists, historians, psychologists, military officers, engineers, political scientists, and statisticians. Organizations represented by these individuals include government agencies, private industry, academia, advocacy groups, and national laboratories both in the United States and abroad.
Social and Behavioral Sciences and Education
Social and behavioral sciences and education (SBE) research plays a vital role in science and technology policy. Recent and ongoing federal efforts have all benefitted from advances in SBE research, including those to reduce violent crime; to improve the quality of U.S. science, mathematics, and engineering education at all levels; and to elevate the role of citizens in the development of an effective sustainable energy strategy.
Experimental approaches in data visualization—at the nexus of the cognitive sciences, computation, and statistics—also drive innovative approaches for the presentation of complex measures for use by planners and policymakers.
Space, Aviation, and Transportation
STPI's space, aviation, and transportation research assesses political and economic costs and benefits with regard to the development and implementation of federal policies, programs, and technologies. This research provides gap analyses to help identify areas of under-supported research within agency R&D portfolios. STPI, in partnership with IDA's Studies and Analyses Center researchers, address questions vital to the nation's use of space capabilities, such as the technological feasibility of “operationally responsive space” to achieve national security objectives.