Every five years, panels are convened to evaluate the fields in each major area of science and technology (e.g., physics, biology, electrical engineering), their standing in the world, and the resources needed to reach and maintain world-class position. Evaluation focuses on outputs, such as important discoveries, and also on certain benchmarks of best practice, such as number of scientists and engineers and their training or the current state of the laboratories and research facilities. To avoid conflicts of interest, at least half of the panel will include a few nonscientists plus experts from fields outside but related to the fields being evaluated. The panel will also include specialists in the evaluated fields who are recruited from the United States and foreign countries. If any field within a major area is performing below world standards but is judged to be a national priority, the panel will recommend that its budget be augmented or other changes made to bring it up to par. At the same time, the panel will identify, the other fields with declining scientific opportunities and obsolete federal missions from which resources should be reallocated. Opportunities for international cost-sharing will be examined to achieve optimal use of federal funds devoted to science and technology.

Evaluations will be commissioned by the National Science and Technology Council or its equivalent. The selection of fields for clear U.S. leadership from among those recommended by the panels will be made by the President and presidential advisors as part of the budget process. As an example, an extract of the President's budget message might read: ''I propose that the United States need not be so far ahead in experimental particle physics, but should operate at world levels, in this case by contributing to construction of the particle accelerator in Geneva, sponsored by the CERN, and funding the participation of U.S. scientists in its design and research. On the advice of my Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, I propose that the United States should remain clearly preeminent in the molecular biology of plants and animals for the following reasons .... Accordingly, I will include the necessary additional funds in the FS&T budgets of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation to achieve this goal....''

From: Conclusions, Recommendations, and Discussion

Cover of Allocating Federal Funds for Science and Technology
Allocating Federal Funds for Science and Technology.
National Academy of Sciences (US) Committee on Criteria for Federal Support of Research and Development.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1995.
Copyright © 1995, National Academy of Sciences.

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