Navigating the Commons: How Science and Management in the Mission Agencies Create Disruptions and Spur Innovation

Across the federal government, there is increasing emphasis on the need to fund research that informs decision-making and responds directly to societal capabilities and goals.  But the culture of program management in federal science agencies is still oriented to traditional approaches driven by expert opinion of leading scientists and expected to result sometime down the road in insights relevant to society.

The Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) at Arizona State University hosted a series of informal exchanges between science policy practitioners (i.e. program managers) in government, academia and scientific societies about the challenges and opportunities for innovating in path dependent institutions. Topics ranged from balancing support for different modes of science (basic, applied, and use-inspired), managing knowledge in an era of information overload (scientific and otherwise), and tackling problems more complex than individual agency missions. Finally, the group discussed solutions for working towards a balance within and outside the confines of government sponsored research and development systems.