STEM Education in the Federal Government
STEM Education in the Federal Government
Is There Overlap Among Programs?
February 2012

Many federally funded STEM programs overlap, and few efforts are made to coordinate and evaluate program activities, according to a report released in January by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Strategic Planning Needed to Better Manage Overlapping Programs Across Multiple Agencies analyzes the number of federally funded STEM programs, the degree of similarity among them, and the efforts made to measure their effectiveness. The GAO found overlaps among 83% of the 209 STEM education programs examined. The criteria for overlap are that programs have at least one similar target population, provide at least one similar service with at least one similar STEM field of focus, and have at least one similar program objective.

The GAO cautions that its findings do not imply that STEM education programs are duplicative. Indeed, the report notes that there may be differences between programs’ stated goals, that programs may serve specific populations within a target group, and that programs may represent funding for different career stages that are meant to build on each other.

In addition, the GAO found that, despite requirements in the America COMPETES Act that agencies coordinate their STEM education programs, only 33% of the programs were engaged in coordination efforts. The GAO also investigated the recent history of evaluations of the STEM education programs, finding that 66% of programs had not conducted an evaluation since 2005.