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15 III. SOLICITATION AND SELECTION OF PROPOSALS GENERAL GUIDELINES The Foundation's solicitation of proposals should impose as few constraints as possible on the subject matter, size, and organization of proposed centers. NSF should accept proposals in any field. Universities and departments with diverse capabilities should be encouraged to submit more than one proposal. Researchers should be able to work within a center while also receiving individual investigator ~rants. . In view ot the large scale and long duration of centers, thorough merit review is critical. External reviewers should evaluate the scientific quality of the proposed research and the capabilities of the institution and investigators to meet the criteria of a successful center. There should be face-to-face and on-site reviews of the leading candidates among competing proposals. The creation and operation of a center is a major undertaking, requiring not only research, education, and facilities development within the parent institution, but also outreach to the scientific community and, in many cases, to industry. To realize their potential, centers selected for support must be adequately funded, even if the consequence is the creation of fewer centers than the Foundation has projected. Following the initial selection, new centers should be created only to the extent that funding is available without detriment to the support of individual investigators or existing centers. If the projected increases are not approved by Congress, the Science and Technology program should be reduced proportionately so that a balance is maintained among modes of research support. . budget Centers

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16 FUNDING, REVIEW, AND SELECTION NSF should maintain a budget for Science and Technology Centers separate from current program and division budgets and administered by a new program office for Science and Technology Centers. The pane! assumes that the Foundation will receive proposals for the program annually. Authors of proposals should, at an early stage, consult with a program officer within one of the existing NSF research directorates or in the new office. Proposals should be submitted to existing program offices or directly to the program office for Science and Technology Centers. The latter should be charged with serving as an advocate and ombudsman for proposals that do not fall into current program areas. NSF should ensure that all of the program offices involved in evaluating proposals are adequately staffed to perform these functions. The selection of proposals should proceed in two stages. First, under the direction of the Science and Technology Centers office, program officers responsible for fields in which applications are submitted should participate In setting up an initial merit review of the scientific quality of the proposed research. Program of f leers from the discipline-based directorates are the most knowledgeable people in the Foundation to select reviewers for scientific quality. The first round of review may be conducted by mail ballot or by convening panels of reviewers. For proposals judged to have significant scientific merit, there should be a second level of review, addressing: o whether a center is needed to do the proposed work, o whether the preconditions of an effective Science and Technology Center are likely to be met, and what should be the balance of awards among scientific fields to meet the goals for the NSF Program for Science and Technology Centers, including enhancing the nation's economic competitiveness. This second review should be conducted by a single multidisciplinary committee reflecting the full spectrum of NSF research activities and

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17 composed of scientists from universities, industry, and national laboratories, selected for their broad perspective on science, education, and knowledge transfer. The committee might convene ad hoc panels of specialists to interview applicants at a central location or to conduct on-site visits. Site visits are essential, although they may be practical only for those few proposals tentatively selected for awards. The review committee should advise the NSF Director on the final selection. CRITERIA FOR SELECTION Scientific Quality The principal selection criterion will be the scientif ic quality of the proposal. The proposed center should enable new science or the application of new techniques or instruments to important scientific problems. The proposal may be cross-disciplinary or limited to a single discipline, as appropriate for its objectives. Intellectual Theme A proposal should have a unifying research theme and should demonstrate that the proposed center can accomplish significant results more effectively and in a more timely manner than its participants could achieve as individual investigators. A center's theme should be sufficiently long term to justify a center form of organization and broad enough to permit changes in focus and approach as the research proceeds, but it should have sufficient focus to have definable goals. In some instances, the theme may derive from various uses of a common facility or piece of equipment, but the center must be more than merely a provider of services. Education and Training The proposal should include plans for the education and training of a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral and industrial fellows, and faculty of undergraduate institutions and secondary schools. The instruction plan should indicate how the center's activities will be integrated into the university's structure and academic programs.

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18 Staffing Science and Technology Centers can succeed only with outstanding leadership. It was apparent from the panel's examination of existing centers that the presence of one or two highly effective administrators often makes a critical difference. The usual mode should be a single director with strong scientific qualifications and administrative skills. The university should demonstrate its willingness to provide regular teaching faculty who meet university and departmental standards to constitute the core research staff of the center. Where interdisciplinary research activities are contemplated, the university should demonstrate how its academic departments will recognize and reward faculty, research fellows, and students for their accomplishments within the center. Additional scientific staff may occupy non-tenure track positions. Proposals should anticipate the career and career development opportunities that will be available to scientific staff who do not hold faculty appointments; and they should address the kinds of interaction expected to occur among a center's principal investigators and other research staff. Size and Cost The purpose of a center is to achieve greater productivity and inventiveness in an important area of science. The size and cost of a center derive from the demands of the subject matter. The annual NSF investment might be as low as $500,000 and as high as $10 million, with the cost of most centers falling in the range of $1 million to $5 million. The number of personnel associated with centers also may vary widely. Lower limits are set by the center's objectives. Upper limits are set, in addition, by the need to maintain focus and coherence and by the availability of specialists. The size of a proposed center should be commensurate with the size of the f ield; the ma jority of research talent in a field or subfield should not be concentrated in a single center.

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19 Outreach and Participation Center proposals should include plans for involving the relevant research community beyond the sponsoring university -- at other universities, colleges, and non-prof it research organizations and in industrial and government laboratories. This outreach can take many forms, including timely publication of research results, visitor programs, personnel exchanges, computer linkages, conferences and seminars, institutional affiliations, work-study programs, consulting arrangements, continuing education programs, contract research, student placement in summer jobs, and academic-year cooperative programs. Although leveraging the NSF investment is desirable, it should not be the primary reason for attracting the participation of industry, state governments, or other sectors. Rather, the goal should be to encourage intellectual exchanges on a scale and with a frequency that do not ordinarily occur between the university and outside communities. Larger centers should have proportionately greater external participation and outreach efforts. Foreign participation with reciprocal arrangements should be encouraged where appropriate. Ind ustry. An important mode of industrial cooperation is the exchange of personnel to help develop and transfer new knowledge. Although it should not be a prerequisite of science-based centers, corporate participation also may include direct financial contributions or equipment donations. It is to be expected that such participation will be small during the start-up phase of a center and increase over time; in some instances it may not develop during the lifetime of the center. Center research activities should be open to the maximum extent. States. Although the benefits of Science and Technology Centers are national, state governments increasingly perceive advantages in supporting local centers of scientific research and training to provide additional jobs and revenue, attract out-of-state talent and industrial investment, and produce research on areas of state responsibility or interest. State participation might include providing sites, financing construction, matching funds for instrumentation or equipment, enabling the host institution to create new faculty positions, and facilitating knowledge transfer to state agencies and local industries.

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20 Foundations and Private Donors. Foundations and private donors differ from states and corporations in having fewer local or proprietary interests. Their participation in centers is likely to be primarily financial, except in the case of operating foundations with in-house research activities.