. "3 Modes of Support and Issues of Balance." Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation's Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report
resources in a way that may better address emerging challenges. Furthermore, the balance of modes should evolve in the future in a manner that is consistent with strategic planning efforts.
The committee believes that the strategic plan itself will be useful to ATM, but the process of producing it may prove even more valuable, particularly if it is conducted with ample and transparent community engagement. The committee envisions the strategic planning process as providing a mechanism for the community as a whole to participate in an active conversation about the direction of the field and where best to use resources, while remaining sensitive to the societal expectations of that research. Thus, the strategic plan must be flexible and responsive, and developed by the science community in collaboration with ATM management. Ideally, the process of developing the strategic plan would be simple, revisited at regular intervals, and eventually ingrained in the ATM culture.
A strategic plan will be essential to maintain a balanced, effective portfolio in an evolving programmatic environment.
Finding: We are now in a phase of rapid change in graduate education demographics, the role of the United States in the global atmospheric science community, potentially the role of NSF in national atmospheric science funding, and the maturation and interdisciplinary growth of atmospheric science, as well as a likely period of constrained budgets. GEO (2000) represents a broad strategic plan for NSF GEO and reflects the considerable evolution of the geophysical scientific enterprise. Yet, ATM has not developed its own strategic plan. Given the changing programmatic environment, ATM should take a more proactive approach to strategic planning. A flexible strategic plan developed with ample community input will enable determination of the appropriate balance of activities and modes of support in the ATM portfolio; help plan for large or long-term investments; facilitate appropriate allocation of resources to interdisciplinary, interagency, and international research efforts; and ensure that the United States will continue to be a leader in atmospheric research. In addition, a strategic planning effort that effectively engages the community will enhance the transparency of the rationale behind ATM’s decisions.
Recommendation: ATM should engage the community in the development of a strategic plan, to be revisited at regular intervals, and should rethink its programmatic organization in light of this plan.