Setting Priorities For Large Research Facility Projects Supported By the National Science Foundation
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION ARLINGTON VA
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The National Academies Report regarding NSFs process for identifying, approving, constructing, and managing large-research-facility projects states A number of concerns have been expressed by policy-makers and researchers about the process used to rank large-research-facility projects for funding. First, the ability of new projects to be considered for approval at the National Science Board NSB level has stalled in the face of a backlog of approved but unfunded projects. Second, the rationale and criteria used to select projects and set priorities among projects for MREFC funding have not been clearly and publicly articulated. Third, there is a lack of funding for disciplines to conduct idea-generating and project-ranking activities and, once ideas have some level of approval, a lack of funding for conceptual development, planning, engineering, and design information needed when judging whether a project is ready for funding in light of its ranking and for preparing a project for funding if it is selected. Those concerns have eroded confidence among policy-makers and the research community that large-research-facility projects are being ranked on the basis of their potential returns to science, technology, and society. The report includes a number of recommendations by the Study Committee for actions by NSF to address these concerns. The National Science Foundation NSF embraces the spirit of the Reports recommendations. In this response we address the principles of the primary recommendations, leaving the detailed mechanisms to be addressed in consultation with our communities, the Office of Management and Budget 0MB, and Congress.
- Administration and Management