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TABLE 6-2 Annual Number of PECASE Awards, by Agency, 2005

Agency

Awards

National Science Foundation

20

National Institutes of Health

12

Department of Energy

9

Department of Defense

6

Department of Commerce

4

Department of Agriculture

3

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

2

Department of Veterans Affairs

2

TOTAL

58

ARIF are distinguished from other types of instrumentation by their expense and in that they are commonly acquired by large-scale centers or research programs rather than individual investigators. The acquisition of ARIF by an academic institution often requires a substantial institutional commitment and depends on high-level decision-making at both the institution and federal agencies. ARIF at academic institutions are often managed by institution administration. Furthermore, the advanced nature of ARIF often requires expert technical staff for its operation and maintenance.

A recent National Academies committee25 found that there is a critical gap in federal programs for ARIF. Although federal research agencies research do have instrumentation programs, few allow proposals for instrumentation when the capital cost is greater than $2 million. No federal research agency has an agencywide ARIF program.

In addition, the ARIF committee found that instrumentation programs are inadequately supported. Few provide funds for continuing technical support and maintenance. The programs tend to support instrumentation for specific research fields and rarely consider broader scientific needs. The shortfalls in funding for instrumentation have built up cumulatively and are met by temporary programs that address short-term issues but rarely long-term problems. The instrumentation programs are poorly integrated across (or even within) agencies. The ad hoc ARIF programs are neither well organized nor visible to most investigators, and they do not adequately match the research community’s increasing need for ARIF.

When budgets for basic research are stagnant, it is particularly difficult to maintain crucial investments in instrumentation, and facilities. The Na-

25

Ibid.



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