Is the balance between fundamental and user-driven research proper?
Is research being conducted in the proper areas?
Are there plausible hypotheses supporting each of the research plans?
Is far-term research at the forefront of science and determined to be a world-class endeavor?
Is the proper amount of high risk/high payoff research being pursued?
Is the application of fundamental science to solve real-world problems adequate?
Formulation of the Research Plan
Are the program’s goals and objectives clearly defined and consistent with relevant documents such as NASA’s Strategic Plan?
Is there evidence of a clear understanding of the need by NASA’s enterprises, other organizations (e.g., the FAA, DOD, etc.), or the aerospace community at large for the R&D or analysis, and the potential benefits? Are the program’s deliverables to those organizations clearly articulated and are those organizations adequately involved in the planning and review process?
Can the expected benefits be accomplished by the proposed research? If not, is the path to adequately maturing the research clear? Is this planning well supported by sufficient decision points, downselects, customer agreements, and/or unallocated outyear funding?
Are there sufficient near-term deliverables or progress metrics by which the program can be regularly assessed? Are there sufficient off-ramps or sunsets to ensure that funding is reallocated within the program or to other programs if the program does not make adequate progress towards one or more of its goals and objectives? Are the program’s plans for independent and/or external reviews adequate and appropriate?
Are appropriate scientific and technical objectives being posed, taking into consideration program goals, NASA's strengths, and the time horizon for the project? Are critical personnel and facilities required to support the program well defined?
Connections to the Broader Community
What programs or program elements should be performed in-house at NASA and be exempt from competition with industry or academia?
Is there evidence that the research plan for the area under review reflects a broad understanding of the underlying science and technology and of comparable work within other NASA units as well as industry, academia, and other federal laboratories?
Is there evidence that the research builds appropriately on work already done elsewhere? Does it leverage the work of leaders in the field? Is the strategy for out-of-house work (competitions, partnerships, etc.) well chosen and managed?
Is the research being accomplished with a proper mix of personnel from NASA, academia, industry, and other government agencies? Is the program using high-quality research performers or is there untapped talent outside the program that can be brought to bear?