processes for organizational assessment, to ensure that NIST is positioned to have the benefit of relevant feedback relating to all of its programs and mission areas.

NIST’s Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT), an external advisory board, highlighted in 2010 the need for NIST to reevaluate its assessment and review processes. The VCAT 2010 Annual Report contained the following recommendation relevant to program assessment:1

Following the reorganization of NIST into mission-focused laboratories, NIST should develop a comprehensive assessment program that includes effective peer review of scientific quality, [and] customer satisfaction for measurement services and for effectiveness in meeting the needs of the particular measurement program.


In 2011, NIST charged the National Research Council to conduct a study of best practices in assessing R&D organizations and to prepare a report providing NIST with information on peer-review and performance-evaluation systems. The NRC formed the Panel for Review of Best Practices in Assessment of Research and Development Organizations to carry out this study. The Panel was charged by the Director of NIST to consider means of assessing specific organizational aspects in a manner that satisfies the requirements of NIST to perform effective assessments but also identifies assessment methods that can be applied selectively to other R&D organizations. The organizational aspects are:

•     Technical merit and quality of the science and engineering work,

•     The adequacy of the resources available to support high-quality work,

•     The effectiveness of the agency’s delivery of the services and products required to fulfill its goals and mission and to address the needs of its customers,

•    The degree to which the agency’s current and planned R&D portfolio supports its mission,

•    The elements of technical management that affect the quality of the work,

•  The extent to which the agency is accomplishing the impact it intends, and

•  The agency’s flexibility to respond to changing economic, political, social, and technological contexts.

In this report, an R&D organization is readily understood to consist of a group of scientists, engineers, and support staff, with appropriate facilities and equipment, working to accomplish some stated mission goal(s). An R&D organization could be the Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories system, or it could be a single laboratory, or even a directorate, division, or group within a laboratory. It could be the entire array of Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories or any one of these. It could be a laboratory within an industrial organization. It could be an organized research center at a university, or a research center involving collaboration among several universities and industries. Even more broadly, an R&D


1 Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, 2010. 2010 Annual Report of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C., p. 7.

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