SOURCE: IRIS Data Management Center, private communication, 1994.
Recent years have seen several new multibillion-dollar international projects, and multimillion-dollar international efforts have become almost commonplace. These "megaprojects" or "megascience" programs have a number of common characteristics. They require long-term funding commitments; they may necessitate the building of new large facilities or instruments, which then require large expenditures for operating funds; they typically involve teams of researchers working on different aspects of the project, with the consequent requirement for international communication and data exchange; and, with the current state of technology, their scientific objectives cannot be fulfilled by using a smaller-scale research format.13
In 1991 the U.S. Congressional Budget Office identified 80 projects funded by the U.S. government that each cost at least $25 million (in 1984 dollars) during the period from 1980 to 1986.14 Many of these involved significant international participation. In contrast, there were only a handful of such nonmilitary large-scale research projects in the 1950s and 1960s.