may have many meanings that refer to special attributes of a particular research center, such as

  • The terms of the center’s creation.

  • The location and ownership of, or agreements on, property in use by the center.

  • The scope of the science engaged in and how it is related to the current status of the center.

  • The existence, if any, of one-of-a-kind datasets that confer special significance on the research carried out by the center.

  • The ties between the research carried out by the center and the collections of the Smithsonian Institution.

  1. How opening some of or all the support now given to each of the centers to a competitive process would affect the science involved. Questions considered included:

    • Would the cyclic nature of a competitive process have a favorable or adverse effect on achieving the goals of the field?

    • How would opening the research to a competitive process affect the resources of the research centers, including personnel?

    • Would any detrimental effect be outweighed by the enhancement of opportunity that a competitive system would give to relevant fields to reach their scientific goals?

  1. Given the assumption that any of the six research centers are deemed to be unique and to warrant retention of their current system of support, what recommendations can be made for regular evaluation of the centers to ensure that the quality of their science is maintained? The Committee considered

    • The evaluation structures and methods currently in place.

    • How these evaluation schemes compare with systems in place in similar institutions.

In addition, in keeping with its charge to address whether any portions of the Smithsonian research portfolio should be exempt from priority setting through a competitive peer-reviewed grants program, the Committee considered the current role of competition in the funding of Smithsonian research.


NMNH is the largest of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums and is the most visited natural history museum in the world. Established in 1910, NMNH was the first Smithsonian unit to be housed in a building

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