Subject: Policy for the Conduct of NASA Research and Technology (R&T)
Responsible Office: Science Mission Directorate
This NASA Policy Directive (NPD), in conjunction with NPD 7120.4,
Program/Project Management, establishes the policy and responsibilities for
the conduct of NASA's Research and Technology (R&T) programs and associated
projects. This policy is meant to be flexible, adaptable and conformable
to the diverse nature of R&T programs that NASA conducts and manages.
NASA's R&T programs include aeronautics and space research and analysis
programs encompassing the traditional disciplines, such as astrophysics,
planetary science, heliophysics, Earth science, space medicine, and
biological and physical sciences. NASA's space flight and ground support
systems technology development programs, basic aeronautics and flight
research programs, and research programs in education are also included.
As mandated in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended,
two of NASA's objectives are the expansion of human knowledge and the
establishment of long-range studies of aeronautic and space activities for
peaceful and scientific purposes. Therefore NASA shall undertake only R&T
programs whose objectives are clearly defined and consistent with the
Agency?s vision and mission, as defined by NPD 1001.0, NASA Strategic Plan.
This NPD is applicable to NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, including
Component Facilities and Technical and Service Support Centers. This
language applies to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), other contractors,
grant recipients, or parties to agreements only to the extent specified or
referenced in the appropriate contracts, grants, or agreements.
42 U.S.C. 2473 (c) (l), Section 203 (c) (l) of the National Aeronautics and
Space Act of 1958, as amended.
4. APPLICABLE DOCUMENTS
a. NPD 1001.0, NASA Strategic Plan.
b. NPD 1000.0, NASA Strategic Management and Governance Handbook.
c. NPD 1360.2, Initiation and Development of International Cooperation in
Space and Aeronautics Programs.
d. NPR 1080.1, NASA Research and Technology Management
e. NPD 2200.1, Management of NASA Scientific and Technical Information
f. NPR 2200.2, Requirements for Documentation, Approval, and Dissemination
of NASA Scientific and Technical Information
g. NPR 5100.4, Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (NASA/FAR
Supplement) [48 CFR 1800-1899]
h. NPR 5800.1, Grant and Cooperative Agreement Handbook
i. NPD 7120.4, Program/Project Management
j. NPR 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements.
k. NPR 7120.8, NASA Research and Technology Program and Project Management
l. 14 CFR, Aeronautics and Space, Part 1275 Research Misconduct
m. 48 CFR, Federal Acquisition Regulations
Implementation of NASA?s R&T policy involves planning, selection,
management, oversight, review, and evaluation processes. Specific
implementation responsibilities falling upon NASA offices, officials, and
individual researchers are identified in NPR 1080.1, NASA Research and
Technology Management, and in NPR 7120.8, NASA Research and Technology
Program and Project Management Requirements. NASA solicits proposals for
R&T investigations using Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs), such as
Announcements of Opportunity (AOs) and NASA Research Announcements (NRAs),
or NASA Cooperative Agreement Notices (CANs). AOs and NRAs are described in
NPR 5100.4, Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (NASA/FAR
Supplement); CANs are described in NPR 5800.1, Grant and Cooperative
Agreement Handbook. Advisory committees and other external groups composed
of independent stakeholders are also important to the formulation and
oversight of NASA's R&T programs to ensure that programs represent the
highest quality research and technology efforts in the national interest.
NASA seeks external advice from a diverse range of institutions
representing a variety of perspectives and backgrounds.
(1) Plan and Prioritize:
NASA's focus in selection and program planning of R&T is on excellence.
The Agency will achieve excellence by selecting the best ideas to be
carried out by the most capable people, thereby providing the American
public the greatest return on its investment in NASA R&T programs.
Additionally, NASA's role as an R&T Agency requires a high-quality internal
R&T capability and knowledgeable civil service personnel working at the
forefront of research and technology. R&T program planning shall be
consistent with the Agency?s vision and mission, as defined by NPD 1001.0,
NASA Strategic Plan and with the Administration's stated priorities.
(2) R&T Management:
NASA shall formulate and execute R&T in accordance with the requirements of
NPR 7120.8, NASA Research and Technology Program and Project Management
Requirements and NPR 1080.1, NASA Research and Technology Management.
(3) Solicitation, Review, and Selection of R&T Proposals:
(a) Open competition and peer review (the technical review of proposals by
qualified, unbiased personnel) shall be the standard method of ensuring
that the most qualified R&T proposals are selected. A process employing
less than full and open solicitation and selection of proposals may be used
when the MDAA determines that one or more activities can best be
implemented by a known, existing capability. The specific process of the
solicitation may vary depending on program requirements, and proposals may
be received other than through a solicitation.
(b) The solicitation shall state the evaluation factors used to evaluate
proposals and provide a clear description of the research areas of interest.
(c) Selection officials shall make selection decisions based on the
(d) The solicitation, review, and selection process for R&T proposals shall
be properly documented.
NASA shall handle allegations of R&T misconduct following processes
established in NPR 1080.1, NASA Research and Technology Management and 14
CFR Part 1275, Research Misconduct.
(5) Oversight and Evaluation:
(a) Assessments of the quality, effectiveness, and impact shall be made on
a regular basis through all phases of an R&T program. The minimum criteria
for these assessments are defined in NPR 7120.8, NASA Research and
Technology Program and Project Management Requirements.
(b) When possible, the assessments shall be based on measurable, including
quantitative, criteria; it is recognized, however, that quantification is
sometimes not possible for fundamental research. Other assessments based
on government-wide mandates, such as the Government Performance and Results
Act (GPRA) and Program Assessment and Rating Tool (PART) are described in
NPR 1080.1, NASA Research and Technology Management.
(6) Form Partnerships:
NASA shall encourage the participation of scientists, engineers,
technologists and students from industry, other Government agencies,
academia, NASA Centers, industrial firms and nonprofit organizations in
NASA?s R&T programs
(7) Establish International Collaborations:
(a) International coordination and the mutually beneficial conduct of
international cooperation programs, projects, and activities are encouraged
when such participation is consistent with NASA's mission and has
technical, scientific, economic, or foreign policy benefits for NASA or the
(b) Arrangements for cooperative international projects shall take into
consideration NASA's fiduciary responsibility to ensure adequate technical
insight to maximize the probability of mission success.
(c) NASA shall lead where appropriate, but will also join partnerships led
by other countries and those partnerships in which leadership is shared.
NASA will follow the policy set forth in NPD 1360.2, Initiation and
Development of International Cooperation in Space and Aeronautics Programs,
in conducting international collaborations.
(8) Data Availability:
(a) Per NPD 2200.1, NASA is required to provide for the widest practicable
and appropriate dissemination of the Scientific and Technical Information
(STI) resulting from NASA's R&T efforts, while precluding the inappropriate
dissemination of sensitive but unclassified information.
(b) Per NPD 2200.1, NASA is required to disseminate STI in a manner
consistent with U.S. laws and regulations, Federal information policy,
intellectual property rights, technology transfer protection requirements,
and budgetary and technological limitations.
6. DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
Many different mechanisms are available for assessing and ensuring quality.
Each of these mechanisms can play a significant role at some stage in the
decision making and evaluation processes. The cognizant Mission
Directorates and Mission Support Offices shall periodically review and make
recommendations on the metrics that are used for inclusion in the Agency's
budgetary, performance planning, and review documents and for other
NPD 1080.1A, NASA Science Policy, dated September 30, 2003
/s/ Michael D. Griffin, Administrator
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