number of examples of well-established multibillion-dollar IT businesses emerging only after many years of research and development, with shifting roles of government-sponsored research, industry research, and industry development. Business areas considered in that report, nearly all of which continue to remain pivotal in the IT economy, include graphics and windows, redundant arrays of inexpensive disks (RAID), very-large-scale integrated circuit (VLSI) design, and reduced instruction set computing (RISC) processors (for an updated display of the links between research and major IT industries, see Figure 4.1). In each case, there was sustained government research participation, including both formative exploratory research and more focused attention to particular technical challenges. (Of course, not all research has this sort of outcome—some successful research has far-reaching socioeconomic or mission impact but nonetheless does not lead to billion-dollar industries furnishing products or services.)

From workshop discussions and other interactions of committee members with research-program managers, it is abundantly clear that government agencies that sponsor major IT research programs—such as NSF, DARPA and military service laboratories, NASA, DOE, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—have all evolved diverse cultures of program-management practice. Programs are managed according to management models and practices that are embedded in organizational culture and that may be highly evolved. For example, the DOD has a rich structure of technology-transition activities involving diverse contractors that enable it to hasten the maturing of critical defense technologies along the path from laboratory to operational deployment. This structure can be understood, for example, as a systematic addressing of the many risk issues (see the section “Dimensions of Risk,” below) that arise along this path. There are significant differences in management style and approach among the various mission agencies and programs. (Box 4.1 describes two agency programs in more detail.)

In traditional basic research programs, research teams often operate independently of any particular end user. The NSF’s current Digital Government program, however, represents an important first step in having researchers collaborate directly with potential end users. This kind of direct engagement enables researchers to understand requirements better, validate concepts earlier, and accelerate transition into practice. It also enables potential users to anticipate—and influence—emerging technologies. But regardless of whether an end user is present or not, transition issues must be explicitly addressed, and obtaining an impact in practice requires careful and flexible management by many parties. The teaming structure of the NSF Digital Government program can accelerate this process, but it does not replace it. The right combination of careful manage-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement