The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review strategies to improve the reliability of federally funded research. In their report, GAO examines (1) what actions federal agencies could take to foster rigor and transparency in the research they fund; and (2) assesses the extent to which selected federal science funding agencies have taken actions to improve rigor and transparency.

Based on literature review and expert interviews, GAO made six recommendations, two each to NIH, NSF, and NASA to evaluate research using indicators of rigor and transparency, and to use this information to inform further actions.

Importantly, GAO also found that NIH, NSF, and NASA do not carry out retrospective reviews or sampling of completed research to look for recognizable indicators of rigor, a process that would not require the expense and time required for replicating individual experiments.