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missions, and the competitiveness of U.S. industry. Programs that can positively contribute to these goals can make important contributions to economic growth, national competitiveness, and human welfare. Indeed, as Professor Feller notes, the extensive ATP assessment program has led to significant progress in understanding important aspects of the U.S. innovation system and has supported the development of cutting edge methodologies for its analysis.

Changes Needed

As mentioned, there are clearly issues for the NRC assessment to address. For example, we should probably consider issues such as the timing and speed of the award process, the possibility of concentrating resources in thematic areas, better integration of assessment results in the decision process, and the need to ensure sufficient program scale for maximum impact. There is the related possibility of the program undertaking more “work for others” as do a number of the DoE laboratories, particularly with regard to tools and medical equipment. This was in fact suggested by Francis Collins of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the initial NRC meeting to review the ATP. Yet as the NRC study goes forward, it is important we note and record what the researchers and program participants—winners and losers alike—are saying. What they seem to be saying, and what the outside research shows, is that this is a federal program meeting its challenging goals.



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