The success of a strategy that builds and strengthens this workforce can be assessed by examining movement of personnel both within and outside a given organization. Over time this strategy will provide for a diversity of experience with the broadest possible base of professional interactions. Thus, a key element of any meaningful assessment will be the agility with which an organization acts, at all stages of a program, to train its team and to provide a high level of exposure to diverse programs and organizations working with related or overlapping technical agendas and expertise.
At the heart of looking forward to the next generation of scientific and technological opportunities are the organization’s scientists and engineers. Their knowledge of cutting-edge research will be an essential starting point in all such forward-looking efforts. To be effective, they will have flexibility to attend scientific and technical professional meetings and to participate in the international community of scholars. They will be encouraged to think about next-generation efforts, and they will be rewarded for that effort by some strategy that brings resources to bear on the most promising ideas and allows some to pursue high-risk, high-payoff efforts. More difficult but equally important is a parallel peer-review process that continually evaluates such highly speculative programs and aids in determining when available data indicate a clear likelihood of failure and suggest reallocation of assets.
Organization directors’ discretionary funding, internal allocations for basic research, and outside (“other agency”) funding sources are all key factors that enable the process of fostering a high-quality technical staff. This approach, enriched by interaction with academia, has proven to continue to yield dividends in new and unanticipated discoveries, often without guidance by a well-defined and planned timetable for discovery.
Quality of R&D
The desired outputs of the R&D organization differ by type of organization, but they can typically be represented by measurable quantities such as publications (and their quality), patents, copyrights, and peer awards. The absolute value may not be as important as the trends in such quantities. An effort to benchmark these metrics across similar organizations can make the absolute value more meaningful.
Preparedness is defined as the actions taken by the organization to identify and maintain the resources and strategies necessary to respond flexibly to future challenges.
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