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5 General Observations and Concerns The funding system of the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory warrants a thorough review. A review process for internal funding is needed that is based on technical merit rather than on economic need. For older projects that have been receiving internal funding and either have come to an end or have found other funding, there should be a mechanism in place to ensure that the internal funding is reallocated. The physical structure and the temperature control in some of the existing laboratories of the EEEL need work. It seems that any maintenance takes a very long time. This situation should be corrected. The number of permanent staff is barely adequate to maintain existing programs, albeit all are of high quality; the possible loss of expertise is a concern. The concept of fully documenting specialized knowledge before a staff member retires should be facilitated. Interaction of EEEL groups with other groups in NIST is becoming more difficult because there is less “flexible money” to incentivize collaboration. Internal collaborations seem to be particularly difficult in the biotechnology area. While the work related to the Knowledge Facilitation project is good, it seems to be more of a NIST-wide infrastructure function rather than a divisional function. As projects are developed, the EEEL should remain attuned to opportunities for further collaboration between the Boulder and Gaithersburg groups. There were two examples of issues where the organizational processes may be getting in the way of the efforts. One example involves the external calibration services in the Optoelectronics Division. The Boulder group has an internal goal of decreasing the calibration time. There were several complaints from this group suggesting that the routing of external funds or work through Gaithersburg may lead to increased cost and delays, with no added value resulting from adding Gaithersburg into the loop. EEEL management should examine this complaint and, if appropriate and feasible, improve the process in a way that would lead to lower costs and better customer service in terms of turnaround for service work. The other issue pertains to the work in display technology. This effort is being phased out, but there is still interest in the measurement course in the external community. EEEL management should consider whether it would be a good thing to sell any equipment that is no longer needed by NIST to a commercial enterprise; if so, the process needs to be facilitated. The required payback for capital equipment limits the acquisition of new equipment, and the purchase of large new equipment now requires greater 31
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coordination across organizational entities. At the present time, the lack of people seems to be a bigger limitation than the lack of new capital equipment in the Semiconductor Electronics Division (SED). There is a general lack of modeling and simulation expertise and work in the Semiconductor Electronics Division. The laboratory understands the need for more modeling and simulation work, but there is not enough funding to support it. The SED tries to augment the modeling and simulation work by collaborating with universities. This area could benefit from additional resources. The Semiconductor Electronics Division depends heavily on money from the Office of Microelectronics Programs; reliance on such focused funding could limit the ability of the SED to start much-needed new research initiatives. A flat or declining budget is also a concern within the Quantum Electrical Metrology (QEM) Division. A long-term evaluation of the overall funding model for the division to support core metrology functions and services is encouraged. In the management and use of the fabrication facilities, the financial burden of clean-room operation in the new Building 1 Extension (B1E) needs to be spread beyond the QEM Division. The change in management structure, in which the EEEL director and the QEM Division leader are now both stationed in Boulder, has created challenges and uncertainty in Gaithersburg. This has led to significant stress and morale problems, particularly among the staff most closely involved with the calibration effort. One of the items of interest in the Electromagnetics Division is measurement related to metamaterials. Although metamaterial measurement was mentioned, no details were provided during this year’s review. 32