Specification to the Research-Development-Acquisition Process,” external review can help down-select projects to improve overall chances for programmatic innovation and success with reduced overall costs.

Care should also be taken to not introduce unnecessary risk of project failure through poor planning and management. Understanding the eventual goal of a project or program and identifying appropriate milestones that must be completed or addressed for success can allow for corrections of approach and provide confidence at critical junctures that all required elements are in place to minimize the chances of failure due to bureaucracy.

A necessary adjunct to a well-balanced risk approach is a method for continual assessment of program and/or project progress. Internal, and especially external, standing technical review committees (supplemented by those with operational knowledge) are required to ensure that unsuccessful programs are terminated, to provide technical review for high-risk/high-payoff projects, and to encourage consideration of programs that may not have originated within the facility. The committee cautions that each institution might appoint separate review boards with different membership; while a diversity of opinions is good, having numerous, separate groups could prevent identifying redundancy and duplications. It is essential that reviewers are able to consider the context and larger picture, and maintain continuity.2

Element 4: Predictable and Stable Funding

R&D takes time. Continual disruptions due to major funding shifts and delays lead at best to inefficiencies and, at worst, failure. Funding can roughly be considered at three levels (project, program, and laboratory):

  • Project. Projects are narrowly scoped activities with specific, well-defined goals. Projects may only require a few years for completion, but this timeframe places a high premium on efficiency. Gaps in funding can hinder that efficiency, and an uninterrupted funding stream for the duration of the project or at least between major project milestones/decision points is preferred.
  • Program. Programs have a broader scope than projects with desired outcomes that require multiple steps or inputs for completion. These can last up to a decade, and to be successful, funding needs to be assured (to the maximum extent possible) for that


2 As one possibility, there are several existing government groups with non-governmental life scientists and others who hold clearances at sufficiently high levels and could be utilized, with augmentation as needed.

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