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GAO identifies overlap in federal STEM education

Thirteen federal agencies supported more than 200 programmes to increase knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and attainment of STEM degrees in fiscal year 2010, and a report by the Government Accountability Office identifies 83 per cent of these as overlapping enough to need careful management.

The programmes, which together were worth about $3 billion in FY2010, overlapped to some degree with at least one other programme in that they offered similar services to similar target groups in similar STEM fields to achieve similar objectives, GAO concluded in its report released on 10 April.

Many of the programmes have a broad scope—serving multiple target groups with multiple services—and even when programmes overlap, the services they provide and the populations that they serve may differ in meaningful ways and would therefore not necessarily be duplicative, GAO explained. Nevertheless, it found that the programmes in question were “similar enough that they need to be well coordinated and guided by a robust strategic plan”.

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