3

NIST Responses to Board-level Recommendations Made in the Fiscal Year 1992 Assessment

Given below are the Board's assessment and comments on NIST-wide responses to recommendations made by the Board in its fiscal year 1992 assessment (in sections 1 and 2, “Conclusions and Recommendations--NIST-wide Issues” and “Suggestions for New Programs,” pp. 5-16). Responses by individual laboratories to the panels ' fiscal year 1992 recommendations are discussed in Part II of this report.

NIST-WIDE ISSUES--FISCAL YEAR 1992
Strategic Planning
Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendations

In its annual assessment for fiscal year 1992, the Board focused on strategic planning as NIST's most urgent issue and observed (p. 1) that NIST had a “well-conceived 10-year strategic master plan that . . . [was] being adopted and expanded by each of NIST's eight major laboratories.” The Board also noted that NIST's major laboratories were responding to NIST's master plan with varying degrees of success, and it recommended (pp. 1-2) that “[i]n completing and refining their strategic plans, . . . [the] laboratories should seek industry input . . . [and] also continue to participate in national efforts that help to maximize NIST's impact. NIST management should give particular attention to projects intended to enhance U.S. industry's competitiveness and should ensure that appropriate metrics are used to accurately gauge achievement of objectives.”

NIST's Responses to Recommendations
  • NIST strengthened its industrial outreach. NIST laboratories reoriented their intramural research projects and strengthened their industrial outreach to better support U.S. industrial competitiveness; were acquiring industrial input for planning; and had generated fiscal year 1994 budget initiatives critical to the competitiveness of U.S industry in electronics, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, chemical processing, high-performance computing and communications, and international trade and standards.

  • However, laboratory strategies continued to ignore long-term goals, specific customers, barriers, and metrics. The Board found that laboratory strategies tended to emphasize current activities rather than 5-to 10-year goals, identify categories of customers rather than specific customers, ignore program



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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 3 NIST Responses to Board-level Recommendations Made in the Fiscal Year 1992 Assessment Given below are the Board's assessment and comments on NIST-wide responses to recommendations made by the Board in its fiscal year 1992 assessment (in sections 1 and 2, “Conclusions and Recommendations--NIST-wide Issues” and “Suggestions for New Programs,” pp. 5-16). Responses by individual laboratories to the panels ' fiscal year 1992 recommendations are discussed in Part II of this report. NIST-WIDE ISSUES--FISCAL YEAR 1992 Strategic Planning Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendations In its annual assessment for fiscal year 1992, the Board focused on strategic planning as NIST's most urgent issue and observed (p. 1) that NIST had a “well-conceived 10-year strategic master plan that . . . [was] being adopted and expanded by each of NIST's eight major laboratories.” The Board also noted that NIST's major laboratories were responding to NIST's master plan with varying degrees of success, and it recommended (pp. 1-2) that “[i]n completing and refining their strategic plans, . . . [the] laboratories should seek industry input . . . [and] also continue to participate in national efforts that help to maximize NIST's impact. NIST management should give particular attention to projects intended to enhance U.S. industry's competitiveness and should ensure that appropriate metrics are used to accurately gauge achievement of objectives.” NIST's Responses to Recommendations NIST strengthened its industrial outreach. NIST laboratories reoriented their intramural research projects and strengthened their industrial outreach to better support U.S. industrial competitiveness; were acquiring industrial input for planning; and had generated fiscal year 1994 budget initiatives critical to the competitiveness of U.S industry in electronics, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, chemical processing, high-performance computing and communications, and international trade and standards. However, laboratory strategies continued to ignore long-term goals, specific customers, barriers, and metrics. The Board found that laboratory strategies tended to emphasize current activities rather than 5-to 10-year goals, identify categories of customers rather than specific customers, ignore program

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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 redirection and the elimination of barriers to implementing congressional mandates, lack metrics and bench marks for gauging performance, and consider strategies as permanent documents rather than as plans subject to continual change. Board's Additional Comments Recent national events--NIST's new role as a centerpiece of the administration's civilian technology initiative, the appointment of a new NIST director, and proposals to Congress that NIST's funding be significantly increased--have dictated that NIST revisit its strategic planning in a major way. Given the administration's new expectations for NIST, the Board believes that its fiscal year 1992 recommendations for strategic planning by NIST's major laboratories require even more urgent attention now. The VCAT's “Framework for Operating Unit Planning” emphasizes situation analysis, development of a strategic vision, and identification of external drivers and key customers. These parameters of strategic planning encompass the concepts recommended by the Board. Traditional Core Programs In its fiscal year 1992 assessment, the Board alerted NIST to signs of the erosion of NIST's traditional core programs--e.g., standard reference data, instrumentation, calibration services, and related scientific and engineering research--that support the nation's measurement infrastructure. The Board argued (p. 8) that “NIST's unique ability to support U.S. industry either directly in the development of precompetitive technology or indirectly as lead laboratory for the nation's measurement infrastructure derives from NIST's hard-earned . . . leadership in science and engineering [research].” Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendations The Board recommended (p. 2) that NIST “examine the strengths and weaknesses of its traditional programs that support industrial competitiveness to assure the necessary modernization of facilities and infusion of new talent and skills, . . . continue to phase out traditional activities that cannot be adequately supported or have lost their relevance, . . . [and] assess and provide for the levels of fundamental research needed in each of its programs, recognizing that fundamental long-term research sustains all of NIST 's functions.”

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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 NIST's Responses to Recommendations NIST pursued means for augmenting the Standard Reference Data and Standard Reference Materials programs, did a study of the balance of research conducted in support of metrology and technology development, allocated funds for building in-house competencies in support of emerging technologies, submitted a fiscal year 1995 budget initiative for increasing the number of postdoctoral fellows by 10 percent, and continued to collaborate with university personnel and to provide grants to universities for research leading to advances in metrology and technology. In addition, NIST asked the Board to assess for fiscal year 1993 (1) the health of NIST's data programs, (2) the impact of NIST's extramural programs on its traditional core programs, and (3) the balance between fundamental, standards-related, and generic technology research (see Appendix D). Board findings, conclusions, and recommendations are given above in the section titled “NIST-wide Issues.” Collaboration with Industry Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendation The Board recommended (p. 2) that “NIST should explore the growing opportunities for mutually beneficial exchanges of information with industry associations that are helping their member companies to develop strategies, plan joint ventures, and interpret national and international trade policies.” NIST's Response to Recommendation The Board observed no NIST response to the Board's specific recommendation but noted a significant increase in industrial collaboration. For example, NIST initiated 82 Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) with industrial partners in fiscal year 1992, the last full year for which data are available, providing a total of 168 active agreements (compared with a total of 6 in 1988). Over 60 percent of the CRADAs formed in fiscal year 1992 were with consortia, providing broad interaction with industry, and NIST laboratories increasingly used workshops with industrial representatives for designing and assessing programs. In collaboration with the Industrial Research Institute, NIST initiated a novel experimental program, the Opportunities for Innovation Program, that matches the skills of small entrepreneurial firms with opportunities afforded by large companies in areas of emerging technology such as polymer composites.

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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 Board's Additional Comments NIST's trend toward industrial collaboration is commendable; however, the Board continues to recommend that NIST explore the exchange of planning information with industrial associations as recommended in the fiscal year 1992 assessment. Critical and Emerging Technologies Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendations The Board recommended that NIST collaborate with its counterparts in industry, government, and academe “to identify needed infrastructure services and to make appropriate prospective investments” (pp. 2-3) and “in developing a matrix of infrastructure services needed to support emerging and critical technologies” (p. 10). In addition, the Board recommended “that the long-term fate of successful competence building projects be addressed in the fiscal year 1993 program and budgeting cycle” (p. 3). NIST's Responses to Recommendations NIST laboratories increased their collaboration with industry, government, and academe through workshops, consortia, and ad hoc committees for planning programs and developing joint programs. Details are given in this report's section “NIST-wide Issues” and in Part II, “Assessment of NIST's Major Laboratories.” There was, however, no evidence that NIST attempted to develop the recommended matrix. During the fiscal year 1993 program and budgeting cycle, NIST emphasized high-priority competence building projects and the incorporation of successful competence building projects into the core programs. International Standards Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendations The Board recommended that NIST “further explore ways of contributing to the development of international standards in recognition of the need for strong U.S. representation in an information-based global economy” (p. 3) and that it study, in particular, a recent Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) report, Global Standards: Building Blocks for the Future (OTA, TCT-512, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1992), and “explore ways of exerting leadership in international standard-setting activities” (p. 12).

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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 NIST's Response to Recommendations Based on NIST's extensive involvement in international standards making and on a study of OTA's Global Standards, the director of NIST's Office of Measurement Services briefed NIST's VCAT at its quarterly meeting on the topic “International Standards: Current Issues.” He proposed on behalf of NIST that NIST (1) develop and implement a computerized database of standards-related information for broad dissemination; (2) make standards documents available to the requesting public under arrangements with copyright holders; (3) expand NIST 's Standards Assistance Program, so that standards experts assigned to U.S. embassies around the world would promote acceptance of U.S. standards, conformity assessment procedures, legal metrology concepts, and technology; and (4) establish a funding mechanism to ensure effective U.S. representation and to coordinate private-sector and government participation in international standardization activities. In its report International Issues (NIST, July 28, 1993) to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the VCAT endorsed NIST's proposals and recommended that the proposals be fully funded. Equipment and Facilities Fiscal Year 1992 Recommendation Noting that “[u]pgrading of equipment and facilities, providing for maintenance, and planning for investment in ‘world-class' equipment are all critical to NIST 's fulfilling its mission” (p. 3), the Board recommended that NIST carry out promptly its “current plan for refurbishing its facilities” (p. 12). NIST's Response to Recommendation NIST reported vigorous planning to upgrade its facilities and equipment. NIST plans to build new advanced technology laboratory buildings and renovate several existing laboratory buildings in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado, to provide necessary modern facilities to its advanced scientific and engineering programs. President Clinton's budget submission to Congress for NIST calls for an expenditure of $540 million over the next 10 years for refurbishing NIST's facilities. NIST-wide analysis and planning for renovations are now in progress.

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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW PROGRAMS--FISCAL YEAR 1992 Specialized Management Training The Board recommended “that NIST establish a ‘management college,' if adequate training is not otherwise available, to train staff for close collaboration with industry, management succession within NIST, and work in such increasingly important areas as management of intellectual property” (p. 3). NIST responded that it will continue the present Management Update Series to keep the NIST staff apprised of issues that affect proper management of current NIST programs, including intellectual property issues, and pursue management training opportunities off-site for all management staff. NIST's Executive Board appointed a committee to explore training needs and opportunities for NIST managers. Technology Transfer Organization The Board recommended that “NIST . . . examine the feasibility and desirability of establishing a technology transfer organization to shepherd promising new technologies to the product line for commercialization” (p. 4). NIST responded on July 6, 1993, that it had advertised through the Federal Register for partners to form a national information technology development center. Such a center is conceived as including facilities to address existing industries' generic needs for research and development, product testing, evaluation, and demonstration, education and training, and technology commercialization (including marketing research); a component providing space and shared resources to nurture new high-technology product-oriented companies; and office space for a variety of support services to operate the center. Interlaboratory Teams The Board recommended “that NIST expand on . . . [its] successes by providing incentives for the formation of additional interlaboratory teams that include partners from industry and academe” (p. 4). NIST responded that it has promoted interlaboratory teams by encouraging (1) initiatives that require cooperation between laboratories, such as the flat panel display technology initiative proposed jointly by the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory and the computer systems Laboratory, and the alternative refrigerants initiative proposed jointly by the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory and the Building and Fire Research Laboratory; and (2) collaborations in competence building, Director's Reserve projects, and joint workshops.

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