unrealized projects, and it will not be assumed that they will go forward. Projects that are sufficiently developed in terms of engineering design and technology development to have been given a formal start by the sponsoring agency would not, in general, be subject to reprioritization.
In determining the status of activities that are candidates for prioritization, the committee will review the technical readiness of the components and the system, it will assess various sources of risk, and it will develop its own estimate of the costs of the activity with help from an independent contractor with expertise in this area. It will not uncritically accept estimates provided by activity proponents or the agencies. It is anticipated that, on the basis of the technical readiness assessment, some initiatives may take the form of high-priority development programs rather than projects. In proposing a decadal U.S. research strategy for astronomy and astrophysics, the committee is expected to consider and make recommendations relating to the allocation of future budgets and address choices that may be faced, given a range of budget scenarios. For each prioritized activity, the committee will establish criteria on which its recommendations depend. The committee will make recommendations to the agencies on how to rebalance programs within budgetary scenarios upon failure of one or more of the criteria.
In addressing the U.S. effort in astronomy and astrophysics, the committee is expected to make recommendations bearing on the organization of research programs in astronomy within the current federal agency structure.