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The Impact of Scale on Operations

Changes in the scale of the ATP have also influenced the choice of operational processes. While requirements in terms of fairness, attention to stakeholder needs, efficiency, and effectiveness have remained constant, changes in operational procedures have occurred. These changes were necessary to allow the capacity of handling in a timely way the number of proposals received in the face of budget-restricted competition cycles. Efforts to achieve processes compatible with larger scale operations, such as implementation of Focused Program Competitions, have in some cases given rise to other problems, such as Congressional objections that the Focused Program selection process was not adequately vetted by outside reviewers in deciding which technologies would be proposed.

The Impact of Uncertainty

The numbers of proposals received are influenced not only by how the program operates, but also, and primarily, by the perceived certainty or uncertainty of its funding levels. The costs that companies incur when they propose to the ATP are certain. However, the available funding for which the firms compete is often perceived as highly uncertain. The ATP is constantly alert for ways to make the program work better for industry in the face of the substantial obstacle of funding uncertainty and its discouraging effects on industry participation. Further changes in the competition structure are, therefore, likely to be made.

How Has This All Worked?

A study just being finalized by the Economic Assessment Office of ATP finds that from a portfolio perspective, the results look strong for the ATP. The estimated net benefits attributed to the program from the top performers alone far exceed the $1.640 billion publicly funded portion of the ATP to date, 7 suggesting that the program is on track to produce a high return for the nation.


M.P. Feldman and M.R. Kelley. 2001 . “Leveraging Research and Development: The Impact of the Advanced Technology Program.” in this volume.

National Institute of Standards and Technology. ATP web site. .

7 Because of the matching requirement from the private participants for ATP awards, the total funding of new technologies from the program is approximately $3.3 billion, of which $1.6 is from industry participants. This sum includes 522 projects awarded to 1162 participants and 1045 subcontractors, and involves 172 joint ventures.

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