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OCR for page 259
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 Appendix D Letter Dated February 9, 1993, to Wilmer R. Bottoms from John W. Lyons Describing Three NIST-wide Issues
OCR for page 259
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 February 9, 1993 Dr. Wilmer R. Bottoms Senior Vice President Patricof and Co. One Embarcadero Place 2100 Geng Road, Suite 220 Palo Alto, CA94303 Dear Bill: Enclosed is a description of some issues I would like the Board on Assessment of NIST Programs to address during their upcoming visits. I think it is important that the Board focus on a few NIST-wide issues in addition to their usual assessments of the Laboratory-based efforts, during each assessment period. The three issues I would like the Panels to focus on are: data programs, research balance, and the effects of the intramural and extramural programs on one another. The enclosed sheets provide some questions on these issues that I hope will assist you in focusing your thinking. Sincerely, John W. Lyons Director Enclosure cc: Howard Sorrows, NRC
OCR for page 259
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 NIST-wide Issues for the Director's Charge to the NRC Panels Data Programs: Evaluate the health of the data programs located in a number of laboratories at NIST. The at-large members of the Board on Assessment will be given separate briefings on the central support and management of the data programs by the Office of Measurement Services. The Panels should focus on the data programs in the laboratories. For NIST as a whole: Is there proper balance between meeting short-term customer needs that also bring sales income to the data program and longer-term customer needs, particularly industrial needs? Industry's needs are very large in scale and scope; what should NIST's niche be in producing industrially important data? What should the balance be between NIST's data programs and other research and services? Within each laboratory having data programs: Are the data programs focused on the right things (e.g., the customers ' highest priority data needs)? How do we assure ourselves (and others) of this? Are there high-priority gaps or other needs that are not being addressed? What tools are being employed (and how effective are they) to strategically adjust the data programs to meet industry's emerging (not current) needs? Research Balance: Within each laboratory, and in NIST as a whole, is the current balance among fundamental research, laboratory-based standards work, and generic technology research appropriate (using the definitions below)? If each laboratory were to receive an infusion of additional funding, how would it best be distributed among these three categories of research?
OCR for page 259
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS: Fiscal Year 1993 We classify our research (as contrasted with NIST services) in the following three categories: Fundamental research is defined as advancement of knowledge in disciplines important to the NIST mission, but not directed toward immediate applications. Laboratory-based standards work includes the research, development, and maintenance of fundamental standards, derived standards, and physical constants. It also includes the development of calibration procedures, transfer standards, and working standards used as the foundation of future calibration services or reference materials. Laboratory-based standards work excludes the actual certification or development of SRMs or SRD, calibration services, and any documentary or industry consensus standards development or support. Generic Technology Research is research directed toward a concept, component, or process, or the further investigation of scientific phenomena, that has the potential to be applied to a broad range of products or processes. A generic technology may require subsequent research and development for commercial application. NIST generic technology research is directed toward the precompetitive stage: R&D activities up to the stage where technical uncertainties are sufficiently reduced to permit assessment of commercial potential and prior to development of application-specific commercial prototypes. At this stage, for example, results can be shared within a consortium that can include potential competitors without reducing the incentives for individual firms to develop and market commercial products and processes based on the results. Intramural & Extramural Programs : What has been the impact of the extramural programs on the intramural, laboratory-based programs? For example: Have they stimulated new research or diverted the laboratory from more useful or productive research? Have they created or intensified customer relationships, or have they excessively drawn attention away from existing customers? Have they shifted the laboratory's priorities, and if so, how? Is there a change in the long-term, short-term balance toward higher-priority customer needs or toward higher-visibility, but shorter-term projects?