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General Information

A vital function of the Office of Science Policy Analysis is its role as Staff to the NIH Director with the ability to mobilize rapidly to handle emerging and often urgent policy issues. The following are examples of some past and ongoing emerging issues taken on by OSPA.

Conflict of Interest

In 2004, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), and the Blue Ribbon Panel on NIH Conflict of Interest Policies, a working group of the ACD, presented a report and recommendations to the NIH Director for improving the existing rules and procedures that NIH was operating under regarding real and apparent financial conflict of interest of NIH staff.

The OSPA was instrumental in gathering information and facts relating to the issues and included in the Blue Ribbon Panel’s report. Additional resources about Conflict of Interest can be found at:

NIH Conflict of Interest Information and Resources

Report of the National Institutes of Health Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies PDF Icon

Intellectual Property

OSPA staffed the Trans-NIH Intellectual Property Workgroup, which has reviewed recommendations from the National Academies on intellectual property policy issues. Additional Intellectual property information related to NIH Grants, Genomics, Public- Private Partnership Program, and Technology Transfers can be found at the following links: Grants, Genomics, Public-Private Partnership Program, and Technology Transfers.

Launching the NIH Roadmap

Soon after becoming NIH Director in May 2002, Dr. Elias Zerhouni began work on potential approaches for developing a mechanism by which research and resources with trans-NIH benefit could be developed and supported centrally. OSPA was called upon as the NIH Staff that undertook the intensive work involved in identifying nationally recognized leaders in academia, industry, government, and the public; convening these more than 300 experts in a series of brainstorming meetings; and documenting, categorizing and prioritizing the collective intellectual input from these experts. On September 30, 2003, folding-in the ideas that OSPA distilled from these sessions with his own vision, Dr. Zerhouni laid out a series of far-reaching initiatives to chart a “roadmap” for biomedical research in the 21st century. Additional information about the NIH Roadmap, which was the precursor to what has now been formalized as “The Common Fund,” can be found at

Responding to Recommendations in Reports from the National Academies

Although most reports from the National Academies target policy questions specific to one, or a small group of, NIH institutes and centers, the scope of some reports from the National Academies require an NIH-wide reply, often at the level of the NIH Director. In these cases, OSPA often is called on to lead and coordinate the NIH response. Two instances of this are highlighted elsewhere on this page—see Intellectual Property above and Strategic Planning Guidance, below.


OSPA is collaborating with other NIH components including the Office of Extramural Research (OER), and the Center for Information Technology (CIT), as well as other government agencies including the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science foundation (NSF), to develop a data system to capture the impact of science investments on the economy and on society. This program, STAR METRICS (Science and Technology for America’s Reinvestment: Measuring the EffecT of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science), develops an auditable and transparent way of calculating the initial impact of science spending on jobs. It also captures the additional impact of science on economic growth (through patents, firm start ups and other measures), on scientific knowledge (such as publications and citations) and on social outcomes (such as health and the environment).


Strategic Planning Guidance

In 1998, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a unit of the National Academies, issued its report Scientific Opportunities and Public Needs: Improving Priority Setting and Public Input at the National Institutes of Health. Among its recommendations, the report urged multiyear strategic planning, at the level of individual NIH institutes and centers (ICs). In response to this recommendation, OSPA cataloged and analyzed various IC strategic planning processes and, based on the findings of its analysis, issued guidance to the ICs requiring comprehensive strategic plans. Each IC was required, by the close of calendar year 1999, to submit to the NIH Director, a 5-year strategic plan encompassing the mission and goals of the IC. Since the articulation of that first round of strategic plans, the ICs have continued to update and reissue comprehensive, multiyear strategic plans. Search NIH Strategic Plans and Visions

Several years after the IOM report, in House Report No.109-515 on the Fiscal Year 2007 budget for NIH, the House Appropriations Committee asked each IC to report on how it implements its strategic plans. Again, OSPA took the lead. OSPA convened a working group of IC representatives and, with their input, crafted guidance for a coordinated response to the Congressional Appropriations Committee Request (CACR). OSPA also supplied core text for the response that described common features of IC implementation of strategic plans. This core text prevented considerable redundancy across the IC responses and enabled the ICs to concentrate on their unique strategic plan implementation activities.

Implementation of IC Strategic Plans Report (PDF Icon, 149 pages)

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Implementing Legislation

OSPA is often called upon when new legislation requires significant new activities or responsibilities at NIH. The NIH Reform Act of 2006, enacted on January 15, 2007, contained numerous new reporting requirements for NIH. OSPA coordinated and guided development of the plans to implement these new reporting requirements. As the initial response to new legislation, the NIH Manual calls for preparation of a Legislative Implementation Action Plan or LIAP—a comprehensive plan that describes the major actions required to implement the new activity or responsibility. These plans often resolve significant policy and procedural issues.

In the case of the reporting requirements mandated by the Reform Act, seven LIAPs were required. Working under the supervision of the Steering Committee for Implementation of the NIH Reform Act of 2006, OSPA established and oversaw five LIAP Subgroups (for reports on the Scientific Management Review Board Report on Organizational Changes, Trans-NIH Research, Human Tissue Samples, Whistleblower Complaints, and Experts and Consultants) and established and took the lead for two LIAP Subgroups (for a report on Collaboration with Other HHS Agencies and for the Biennial Report of the Director, NIH). OSPA now is responsible for developing these two reports


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