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Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

National Science Foundation.

ACTION:

Submission for OMB review; comment request.

SUMMARY:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has submitted the following information collection requirement to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. This is the second notice for public comment; the first was published in the Federal Register at 75 FR 68829, and no substantial comments were received. NSF is forwarding the proposed renewal submission to OMB for clearance simultaneously with publication of this second notice. The full submission may be found at: http://www.reginfo.gov/​public/​do/​PRAMain. Comments regarding: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology should be addressed to: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB, Attention: Desk Officer for National Science Foundation, 725 17th Street, NW., Room 10235, Washington, DC 20503, and to Suzanne H. Plimpton, Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 295, Arlington, VA 22030, or send e-mail to splimpto@nsf.gov. Comments regarding these information collections are best assured of having their full effect if received within 30 days of this notification. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (703) 292-7556.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Suzanne H. Plimpton at (703) 292-7556 or send e-mail to splimpto@nsf.gov. Individuals who use a telecommunications devise for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

NSF may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Under OMB regulations, NSF may continue to conduct or sponsor the collection of information while this submission is pending at OMB.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Title of Collection: EHR Generic Clearance.

OMB Approval Number: 3145-0136.

Abstract: The National Science Foundation requests renewal of program accountability and communication data collections (e.g., surveys, face-to-face and telephone interviews, observations, and focus groups) that describe and track the impact of NSF funding that focuses on the Nation's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and STEM workforce. NSF funds grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to colleges, universities, and other eligible institutions, and provides graduate research fellowships to individuals in all parts of the United States and internationally.

The Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), a unit within NSF, promotes rigor and vitality within the Nation's STEM education enterprise to further the development of the 21st century's STEM workforce and public scientific literacy. EHR does this through diverse projects and programs that support research, extension, outreach, and hands-on activities that service STEM learning and research at all institutional (e.g., pre-school through postdoctoral) levels in formal and informal settings; and individuals of all ages (birth and beyond). EHR also focuses on broadening participation in STEM learning and careers among United States citizens, permanent residents, and nationals, particularly those individuals traditionally underemployed in the STEM research workforce, including but not limited to women, persons with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities.

At the request of OMB an EHR Generic Clearance was established in 1995 to integrate management, monitoring, and evaluation information pertaining to the NSF's Education and Training (E&T) portfolio in response to the Government Performance and Results Acts (GPRA) of 1993. Under this generic survey clearance (OMB 3145-0136), data from the NSF administrative databases are incorporated with findings gathered through initiative-, divisional-, and program-specific data collections. The scope of the EHR Generic Clearance primarily covers descriptive information gathered from education and training projects that are funded by NSF. Most programs subject to EHR Generic data collection are funded by the EHR Directorate, but some are funded in whole or in part by disciplinary directorates or multi-disciplinary or cross-cutting programs. Since 2001 in accordance with OMB's Terms of Start Printed Page 5842Clearance (TOC), NSF primarily uses the data from the EHR Generic Clearance for program planning, management, and audit purposes to respond to queries from the Congress, the public, NSF's external merit reviewers who serve as advisors, including Committees of Visitors (COVs), and the NSF's Office of the Inspector General.

OMB has limited the collection to three categories of descriptive data: (1) Staff and project participants (data that are also necessary to determine individual-level treatment and control groups for future third-party study); (2) project implementation characteristics (also necessary for future use to identify well-matched comparison groups); and (3) project outputs (necessary to measure baseline for pre- and post- NSF-funding-level impacts).

Use of the Information: This information is required for effective administration, communication, program and project monitoring and evaluation, and for measuring attainment of NSF's program, project, and strategic goals, and as identified by the President's Accountable Government Initiative; the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, and the NSF's Strategic Plan. The Foundation's FY 2006-2011 Strategic Plan describes four strategic outcome goals of Discovery, Learning, Research Infrastructure, and Stewardship. NSF's complete strategic plan may be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/​publications/​pub_​summ.jsp?​ods_​key=​nsf0648.

Since the EHR Generic Clearance research is primarily used for accountability purposes, including responding from queries from COVs and other scientific experts, a census rather than sampling design typically is necessary. At the individual project level funding can be adjusted based on individual project's responses to some of the surveys. Some data collected under the EHR Clearance serve as baseline data for separate research and evaluation studies.

In order to conduct program- or portfolio-level evaluations, however, both experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation research studies on STEM education interventions require researchers to identify individual-level and organization- or project-level control and treatment groups or comparison groups. NSF-funded contract or grantee researchers and evaluators in part may identify control, comparison, or treatment groups for NSF's E&T portfolio using some of the descriptive data gathered through OMB 3145-0136 to conduct well-designed, rigorous research and portfolio evaluation studies.

In accordance with the 2001, 2005, and 2008 OMB TOCs, NSF requests separate stand-alone clearance (and separately announces for comment in the Federal Register) any program or portfolio research or evaluation. Two examples of third-party evaluations that used EHR OMB 3145-0136 data to inform study design are: OMB No. 3145-0187 (Expiring 8/2011) Evaluation of the NSF's Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program and OMB No. 3145-0182 (Expiring 3/2011) Evaluation of the NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program: Follow-up Study of IGERT Graduates, both conducted by Abt Associates.

Respondents: Individuals or households, not-for-profit institutions, business or other for profit, and Federal, State, local or tribal government.

Number of Respondents: 7,470.

Burden of the Public: The total estimate for this collection is 49,556 annual burden hours. This figure is based on the previous 3 years of collecting information under this clearance and anticipated collections. The average annual reporting burden is between 1 and 72 hours per “respondent,” depending on whether a respondent is a direct participant who is self-reporting or representing a project and reporting on behalf of many project participants.

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Dated: January 28, 2011.

Suzanne H. Plimpton,

Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation.

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[FR Doc. 2011-2285 Filed 2-1-11; 8:45 am]

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