Document Name: Research & Academic Comm. (8 of 23)
Date: 09/01/94
Owner: National Performance Review
Title: Standards for Our Customers: Research & Academic Comm. (8 of 23)

Author: Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review

Date: September, 1994


CUSTOMER GROUP: The Research and Academic Community


David Emmit's students have a new tool for studying the earth. In

fact, they helped develop a sophisticated computer system that allows

researchers to get images of the earth via the information

superhighway. Years of data are available from several satellites,

and the system can even generate composite images. Researchers who

want a specific image can mark it on the computer for order. These

on-line data are a powerful tool in earth science research -- and in

education, Emmit notes: "Students sign on to Internet and get the

same information that scientists are using."

Emmit is a research professor in the Department of Environmental

Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is also a businessman -- a

senior scientist at Simpson-Wether Associates in Charlottesville,

Virginia. Michael Keeler teaches earth sciences at Gonzaga College

High School in Washington, D.C. They both serve as customer advisers

for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's project to

develop an information system that will make earth science data

widely available. The goal is one-stop shopping for earth science

information for anyone in the world. Says Keeler, "The people who

manage the databases have been incredibly responsive to what we need

and what our students need."

Today, NASA system designers are totally committed to consulting

users. "We've actually had users slog through the design process with

early mock-up screens," says Gail McConnehy, senior earth scientist

at NASA. "The rule was always ask the users first how it looks,

feels, and works. It's gratifying to see that our process is working;

a lot of users seem comfortable with it and have responded very


NASA has a presence in every state through the NASA Teacher Research

Center Network, which is designed to help science teachers. NASA

Television offers a front-row seat for launches and missions,

informa-tional and educational programming, historical documentaries,

and updates on the latest developments. The NASA Education Satellite

Videoconference Series provides educational programs and allows

interaction with astronauts and scientists. NASA Spacelink

electronically sends educational material, NASA news, reference data

on aeronautics and space exploration, and announcements on activities

and programs available at NASA field centers.

U.S. R&D -- The Best, Bar None


The federal budget for research and development was over $70 billion

for FY 1994. Over $11 billion was earmarked for supporting university

researchers. Civilian research efforts totaled about $30 billion,

with the balance for defense research. Research is funded in diverse

areas: promising new energy sources, environmental cleanup, housing

technology, weather, space, medicine, mental health, transportation,

information technology, and military needs. In fields such as high-

energy physics, biomedical science, and aeronautics, the national

laboratories provide facilities for researchers from universities,

industry, and government.


Highlights from Customer Service Standards:

NASA's Earth Observing System

The Earth Observing System Distributed Information System will

collect, process, validate, and make available data on upper

atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, ocean circulation and

productivity, ozone change, land surface characteristics, sea ice

dynamics, and polar ice sheet mapping. Customer service standards


--- In July, 1994, the prototype of the EOSDIS, Version 0, became

available with some operational elements.

--- When fully operational, EOSDIS will fill 95 percent of user

requests to the system within 72 hours.

--- Provide for continuous production of geophysical and biophysical

data products flowing from EOS by the year 2004.


The National Science Foundation, a major source of funding for

university and nonprofit research activities, supports education and

development of human resources in science, mathematics, and

engineering. It initiates and supports fundamental, long-term, merit-

selected research through grants, contracts, and other agreements

awarded to universities, university consortia, and other research

organizations. The agency's customer service standards focus on the

research funding process and involve commitments to clarity,

fairness, timing and openness.

The Department of Energy manages the system of national laboratories,

sites of some of the most sophisticated research and development

capabilities in the world. The labs conduct a world-class program in

basic and applied science that supports energy, environmental,

national security, and industrial competitive missions. Recent

breakthroughs from the laboratories include the world's record in

photovoltaic energy conversion efficiency at the National Renewable

Energy Laboratory, the world's record for fusion power levels

produced at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and the world's

most powerful "soft" x-rays at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. In

the past few years, the national labs turned up the heat on

transferring their technology to the private sector. The result is a

big increase in joint projects with the private sector.

The Department of Education serves the academic community in a

variety of ways. The department worked with state governors and

lawmakers, school adminis-trators, teachers, and parents to develop

and enact the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Goals 2000 sets

challenging standards of academic and occupational achievement that

will benefit the department's ultimate customer, learners of all

ages. (Examples of Education's customer service standards appear in

the section on "States, Localities, and Other Partners.")


Highlights from Customer Service Standards:

National Science Foundation


Some of the NSF standards being published for customers seeking

research funding are:

--- Disseminate timely information about programs.

--- State clear guidelines for proposals, criteria, and selection.

--- Conduct fair reviews of proposals, including reconsideration, if


--- Inform applicants of decisions within six months of the NSF's

receipt of the proposal.

--- Provide information that explains the final funding decision for

the proposal.

National Technical Information Service


FedWorld, an on-line information network established by the National

Technical Information Service, offers a user-friendly, central

resource for government information in electronic formats. FedWorld

provides dial-up and Internet access and serves as a gateway to 130

other government systems, provides on-line order taking using major

credit cards, and provides for subscription services. FedWorld has

established the following customer service standards:

--- Access to FedWorld will continue to be provided at no charge.

--- Downloadable products ordered by credit card will be delivered

within 30 seconds.

--- Calls to the Help Desk will be answered by a person, not a

recording, 24 hours a day.

--- Information will continue to be made accessible in whatever

electronic formats meet our customers' needs.

National Archives and Records Administration


The National Archives and Records Administration keeps the

historically valuable records of the U.S. Government, dating from the

Revolutionary War era to the recent past. Most records of nationwide

significance are kept in Washington, D.C., but holdings of regional

and local interest are maintained in 12 regional centers. Some of the

National Archives customer service standards are:

--- If you write to us about our holdings, you will receive a

response within 10 work days.

--- If you visit our Exhibition Hall in Washington, D.C., you will

find us open to serve you with knowledgeable staff or volunteers 364

days per year (closed only on December 25).

--- If you visit one of our Presidential Library Museums, you will

find us open 362 days (closed only on Thanksgiving Day, December 25,

and January 1).

--- If you need information about the National Archives, you can

obtain timely and up-to-date information through Internet and other

on-line services, our fax-on-demand service, through printed

publications, or by contacting one of our offices.


The Federal Information Exchange, or FEDIX -- a customer service

funded by user agencies such as Energy, Defense, Agriculture, Housing

and Urban Development, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and

the Agency for International Development -- delivers on-line

information on research and educa-tional opportunities, program

contacts, scholarships, research equipment, and minority

opportunities. An electronic mail feature lets users go directly to

systems operators with ideas and questions. FEDIX is free and easy to


The federal government also has a major responsibility to share

research and other records held in trust for the nation. Across the

board, agencies are using information technology to make records and

data more accessible. Libraries and research centers, like the

Library of Congress and the Library of Medicine, also continue to

serve their customers with more traditional formats.

The National Archives and Records Administration serves over 2

million customers looking for historical information each year. Its

standards reflect the variety of ways that customers contact them.

One of Archives' customer service stars is the 30-person Federal

Research Center in Waltham, Massachusetts. The center surveyed its

customers, hosted open houses to get to know them, and redesigned its

systems to please them -- and it's working. As one customer wrote: "I

never receive anything but outstanding service. Paul, Bob -- all have

been great. Marvin goes out of his way to accommodate our crazy

demands. Thank you all."


Your Standards

These agencies and offices are publishing customer service standards

for researchers. The standards appear in the "Research and Academic

Community" section of Appendix B.

Department of Agriculture

Economic Agencies

Department of Commerce

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Bureau of the Census

Economics and Statistics Administration

National Institute of Standards and Technology

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Technical Information Service

Patent and Trademark Office

Department of Education

Goals 2000: Educate America Act

Impact Aid

Office for Civil Rights

Student Financial Assistance Program

Department of Energy

Industrial Competitiveness

Science and Technology

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Policy Development and Research

Department of the Interior

Bureau of Mines

National Biological Survey

U.S. Geological Survey

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Education and Materials Services

Mission to Planet Earth

National Archives and Records Administration

National Science Foundation


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