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Summary Overall, the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory (CSTL) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is meeting its obligations, objectives, and desired impacts, and its priorities are appropriate and aligned with NIST’s mission and priorities. The technical merit of the laboratory and the commitment of the staff are high. There is no evidence that any programs are jeopardized by a lack of facilities or equipment, and ongoing and planned new facility construction should greatly improve CSTL capabilities. The National Research Council’s Panel on Chemical Science and Technology has the following comments about the operation of the laboratory within this framework of CSTL’s clear and consistent success and high technical merit. 1. The panel highlights the importance of having a CSTL strategic plan, involving all divisions and geographical locations, including a roadmap for progress, and commends the CSTL’s efforts in developing one. 2. It is important for the CSTL to have a methodology and program for evaluating projects with respect to their contribution to the CSTL and NIST missions. This approach will facilitate the elimination of programs when they are no longer effective in meeting desired goals. The project prioritization process adopted by the CSTL is a positive step, and the panel looks forward to the execution of the process. 3. Because of stable core funding, the CSTL does well with long-term programs that are aligned with the NIST mission. 4. Greater external visibility of the professional staff and their nomination for external awards should be emphasized more; a committee to nominate staff for external awards would help in this regard. 5. The CSTL should continue to emphasize the importance of its staff publishing in high-impact, refereed journals and giving invited talks. If these factors are to be used as performance standards and metrics, they and all other standards and metrics should be clearly communicated to the staff. 6. Information technology problems related to system shutdowns and independent database development within CSTL divisions should be addressed. A policy change at the NIST level is required. 7. Biological topics are becoming an increasing theme at the CSTL and NIST levels. The following are factors that the CSTL should consider in going forward: A. How will the CSTL prioritize the participation of the divisions, especially with respect to hiring decisions? B. What is the leadership role of the Biochemical Science Division? C. How will the CSTL coordinate its activities throughout its divisions and with other laboratories in NIST? D. How will the CSTL strategically partner with agencies and institutions outside NIST? How will workshops be a part of this partnering? E. Measurements and standards are NIST’s niche in this area. 1
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8. With respect to intellectual property, a consistent policy on disclosures, copyrighting, and marketing is needed at the NIST level; this policy must be disseminated throughout the organization. 9. Joint appointments of professional staff to two separate divisions within the CSTL would provide more flexibility in adding personnel in high-priority areas and would enhance interdisciplinary activities. Joint appointments with institutions outside NIST would also add to interdisciplinary capabilities. 10. The CSTL should examine the balance of technicians versus PhD scientists to ensure that the scientists’ time is used most productively and efficiently. The addition of a few technicians might greatly improve the productivity and efficiency of the entire technical staff. 11. The Process Measurements Division has been successful in automating its Thermometry Laboratory, with impressive results. This effort could serve as a model for automating other measurement laboratories that conduct repetitive tasks which must be done in a particular way. 12. The CSTL should continue to seek, and should act on opportunities to lead in, collaborative activities in areas where it has strong expertise and where it has equipment available for use. 13. The CSTL should consider and investigate media opportunities to publicize the usefulness of its capabilities. The panel thinks that more potential users of NIST services and products would come forward if they knew more about what NIST has to offer. 2