Senior Daniel Basco Helps to Develop National Innovation Web Site

Senior Daniel Basco Helps to Develop National Innovation Web Site

Daniel Basco
When senior Daniel Basco listened to President Obama’s State of the Union address, he heard a reference to one of the programs he helped develop while he was in Washington D.C., in the fall. As an outgrowth of Basco’s internship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his SESP practicum, he helped to develop a web site for tracking federal investment in innovation. 

Obama said, "Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you'll be able to go to a web site and get that information for the very first time in history." The new web site he referred to, called the R&D Dashboard (, allows the public to track federal investments in research and development (R&D) that lead to scientific innovations. The site focuses on U.S. Federal investments in R&D from 2000 to 2009 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation(NSF), the two agencies responsible for more than 80 percent of the federal government’s support of university-based research.

“I was brought onto the project to help coordinate the various researchers and web developers that were working on the project,” says Basco. “The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) asked for this project to be completed in a very short time frame, so there was a need to coordinate the various simultaneous efforts to develop this web site. One of my responsibilities was to ensure that we were receiving and processing data correctly from the various federal agencies that were providing us with raw data.”

At NIH Basco had worked on the Star Metrics project — a new federal initiative to measure the returns on investment from federal research funding. As an intern, he worked with a small management and consulting firm that was helping on the project. After his internship, the firm hired him as a staff analyst to continue work on Star Metrics and work on other new projects, including the R&D Dashboard.  

Basco has nothing but praise for his internship. “I couldn't have asked for a more amazing experience,” he says. He worked with Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, a health science policy analyst in the Office of Science Policy within the Office of the Director at the NIH, on his Return on Investments program, a program to provide qualitative and quantitative information to the NIH director. “He was a great mentor and exposed me to a variety of challenges including project development and writing budget justifications for Congress. This was my first experience working directly on federal health and science issues, so it was a great opportunity to learn how the federal government operates,” says Basco.

“I got to work with some amazing people across several agencies, including Dr. Julia Lane at the NSF who heads up their program on the Science of Science and Innovation Policy. I gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of federal science policy and the importance of the new tools being built by people like Dr. Bertuzzi and Dr. Lane that will help inform citizens and the federal government on the impact of investment in research and development.”

A social policy major, Basco is passionate about public policy and in particular health and science policy. Now that he has completed his Northwestern course work during winter quarter, he is seeking fellowship and job opportunities that will allow him to work in that area after graduation. In the meantime he’s still working part-time on the projects he helped develop while in Washington, D.C.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/10/11