“research funding” (for other than salary and infrastructure costs) is already obtained via competition. Any benefits of shifting these three facilities to the jurisdiction of another organization would be greatly outweighed by the harm done to their contributions to the relevant scientific fields.
Regular in-depth reviews by external advisory committees are essential for maintaining the health, vitality, and scientific excellence of the Smithsonian Institution. Although details of the nature and processes of the reviews may vary to accommodate differences among the six centers, such institutional reviews should be uniformly required for all six Smithsonian science centers and for their individual departments, if warranted by their size. Retrospective external peer review is especially important for areas not routinely engaging in competition for grants and contracts. Regular cycles of review followed by strategic planning offer the best means of ensuring that the quality of SI’s science is maintained.
The research programs at the Smithsonian Institution provide essential support to the museums and collections, make substantial contributions to the relevant scientific fields, and fulfill the broader Smithsonian mission to “increase and diffuse knowledge.” The Committee urges a stronger sense of institutional stewardship for these research programs as integral components of the Smithsonian. The Secretary and the Board of Regents should improve communication with the research centers and become strong advocates for their goals and achievements in a manner that is compelling to the Executive Branch, Congress, and the public.