not to do so” (NSB, 2008). As written, this resolution applies to the major research facilities such as the NHMFL and is implemented by NSF such that recompetition is required every 5 years. However, a major multidisciplinary research facility like the NHMFL necessarily involves considerations far different than a single-investigator research grant. These complicating factors include partnerships with other stakeholders, site-specific factors, infrastructural concerns, and/or any other encumbrances on the facility.
Conclusion: Recompetition on timescales as short as 5 years places at risk the substantial national investment in high-field research that is embodied in a facility like NHMFL and could have disastrous effects on the research communities that rely on uninterrupted access to these facilities. Although the committee believes that recompetition of facilities is appropriate, it also believes a flexible approach should be taken in implementing recompetition of the NHMFL to fulfill its role as a steward and to avoid potential negative consequences of a short time interval between recompetitions.
Funding decisions at NSF and other federal agencies are appropriately based on peer review of facilities like the NHMFL. This is crucial to ensure the highest-quality science. The committee observes that NHMFL has realized over its almost two decades of existence many, if not all, of its initial aspirations and has evolved in new directions. It recognizes the need for a mechanism by which the long-term accomplishments and direction of the facility, the evolution of the facility users’ needs and interests, and the efficacy of its management can be critically evaluated, in a way that is beyond the accepted scope of periodic review. Periodic recompetition may be an appropriate mechanism to obtain such an assessment, particularly if a substantial new investment in the facility is contemplated. However, the policy should not be so rigid as to specify a fixed period, especially one as short as 5 years. This will likely have the unintended consequences of discouraging potential partners and hindering the pursuit of projects requiring a sustained effort that could significantly advance the measurement capabilities of the facility.
Conclusion: The committee strongly endorses the consideration given to this matter by the Subcommittee on Recompetition of Major Research Facilities (NSF, 2012). It endorses the need for evaluating the long-term strategy and direction of national facilities, as well as for effective periodic reviews of their scientific programs.
It is important to make a meaningful distinction between nascent and mature facilities, particularly those facilities that have a significant infrastructure investment like the NHMFL, recognizing that recompetition plays a very different role