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Why you should respond to Requests for Information (RFIs)

Moriah Locklear
May 17, 2023

Federal agencies frequently use Requests for Information (RFIs) to gather data and engage the stakeholder community. By responding to an RFI, you have the opportunity to showcase your strengths and areas of investments to help the funder shape and fund effective programs that are in line with your vision of the scientific future.

A Request for Information (RFI) is a mechanism that Federal agencies use to gather information from experts and stakeholders. This tool is widely used and is generally employed when a Federal agency wants to 1) inform decision-making, 2) shape policies, 3) foster collaboration, 4) ensure transparency, and/or 5) promote public awareness and education on scientific matters. Below are summaries of each purpose.

Inform Decision-Making: The government relies on scientific evidence and expertise to make informed decisions regarding policies, regulations, and resource allocation. Requests for information help gather data, research findings, and expert opinions from the scientific community and these responses help identify priority areas, emerging research needs, and gaps in scientific knowledge. This information is crucial for determining agency funding priorities and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and effectively to support scientific progress and innovation.  Engaging the stakeholder community has the additional benefit of generating its buy-in, which may translate into gaining congressional support through the appropriations process. 

Shape Policy: The government seeks to stay informed about the latest scientific advancements and discoveries to shape policies that address societal challenges and promote public welfare. RFIs allow the government to tap into scientific knowledge and insights, helping them develop effective and relevant policies that align with scientific principles.

Foster Collaboration and Partnerships: RFI responses are made public, and summaries are often drafted by the receiving agency. By releasing responses to requests for information, the government can engage scientists and researchers in dialogue, seeking their expertise, ideas, and potential partnerships. This collaboration fosters the exchange of knowledge and promotes synergy between government institutions and the scientific community.

Ensure Transparency and Accountability: The RFI process allows stakeholders and the public to understand the basis of scientific policy decisions and provides an opportunity for public input and scrutiny. This transparency helps build trust and ensures that scientific decision-making is robust, and evidence based.

Promote Public Awareness and Education: Requests for information can also serve to raise public awareness and educate the public about scientific topics. By sharing scientific findings and seeking public input, the government can foster public understanding, engagement, and informed discourse on science-related issues, ultimately promoting science literacy and democratic participation. 

Responding allows for you and ASU as a whole to impact any or all the above areas which will help the Agency shape and fund effective programs that are in line with our vision of the scientific future.

Guest post by Moriah Locklear, Federal Research Engagement Manager, ASU Federal Research Engagement Office