Watchdog finds lack of assessment of federal STEM programs


The federal office responsible for implementing the government’s strategic plan for STEM education hasn’t done enough to measure how well those programs are doing, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The interagency Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), created by law in 2010, “has not fully met its responsibilities
to assess the federal STEM education portfolio,” the report said. “Specifically, the
Committee has not reviewed programs’ performance assessments, as
required by its authorizing charter, nor has it documented those
assessments in its inventory, as required by law.”

The committee, which is housed under the White House’s National Science and Technology
Council as part of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, has said in the past that it was trying to identify and manage any overlap in the various federal programs to improve science, technology, engineering and math education. It “has not fully met its responsibilities” in that area, the GAO said.

CoSTEM also is supposed to gather information about the participation of women, underrepresented minorities and persons from rural areas in federal STEM education programs, but has not done so, the report said.

The GAO recommended that CoSTEM address those shortcomings and others. The committee concurred with those recommendations, the GAO said.

The report comes as the Trump administration has highlighted STEM education as a priority.