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N.I.E. Considers Adding Research Laboratories

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Washington--The Education Department is considering the possibility of more than doubling the number of its regional research laboratories, according to an announcement in the March 26 issue of the Federal Register.

In an outline in the register of how it plans to conduct a forthcoming competition for the sponsorship of its research centers and laboratories, the department also requested public comment on three proposals for changing the number of research laboratories.

One proposal calls for increasing the number of labs from the current seven to as many as 16, while the other two proposals would create only a few new labs. The department did not in the announcement commit itself to expanding the number of laboratories.

The labs, along with 10 national research centers, conduct and disseminate research on regional and national education issues. Established in 1964, they now account for $30.5 million of the $48-million budget of the National Institute of Education, the research arm of the Education Department.

In 1981, the Congress ordered the department to open the contract process for the laboratories and centers to competitive bidding for the first time; since 1964, continued funding for most of them has been maintained by the Congress.

The department had planned to begin the competition last fall, but lawmakers acted to delay it for a year.

In its announcement in the Federal Register, the department noted that it will choose the missions of the new labs and centers from 26 "priority" topics--ranging from teaching to educational technology and school governance.

The exact number of labs and centers, and their specific missions, is to be announced in the future.

According to the department, sponsors for the newly established research organizations will be selected by Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, in consultation with groups of experts and using a point system.

With a maximum score of 100, applicants will be judged on such factors as the "quality of key personnel," "adequacy of resources," and "plan of operation."

For more information, contact Donald R. Fisher, National Institute of Education, 1200 19th St., N.W., Washingon, D.C. 20208.--tt

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