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s Conclusions and Recommendations The Committee on Science Priorities for NSF's Arctic Natural Sciences Program was charged with reviewing the program's management and research strategy and providing guidance on how to set research priorities given the di- verse scientific issues that fall within its purview. In its study, the committee found that the Arctic Natural Sciences (ANS) program considers proposals in an exceptionally wide range of fields and that this poses significant management challenges. Some of these challenges are typical of a program that is new and still evolving, while others relate to the program's size and scope. The committee believes the ANS program makes important contributions to research in the Arctic, but there are opportunities for improvement. ANS staff should find ways to get help in judging proposals through collaboration with other National Science Foundation (NSF) personnel and by getting input from review panels established specifically to consider proposals from a multidisci- plinary perspective. Better internal communications are prerequisites for a uni- fied Arctic Section. And increased outreach efforts to other agencies and pro- grams are needed to build relationships that, over time, could make the program a more effective participant in interagency and international collaborations. Fi- nally, because limited budgets mean that decisions must be made about which research is "best" or "most important," ANS staff can get input on which research areas care important through the peer-review process, interaction with the arctic research community, and planning other activities as needed. This chapter provides the committee's conclusions and recommendations on how best to implement these desired improvements. The conclusions state the main lessons the committee drew from its evaluation; the recommendations in 40

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 41 elude both general guidance and some detailed prescriptions for strengthening the ANS program. The committee took the present Office of Polar Programs (OPP) organizational structure as a boundary condition and, although members brainstormed more radical approaches, our conclusions are based on the follow- ing three assumptions: (1) The ANS program will continue to exist as a broadly defined subsection of the OPP's Arctic Sciences Section, with equivalent status to the Arctic System Science (ARCSS) and Arctic Social Sciences (ASSP) pro- grams. (2) The definition of the areas of science supported by ANS is largely as stated in its request for proposals (atmospheric sciences, biological sciences, earth sciences, glaciology, and oceanography). (3) Funding for science within the Arctic Sciences Section and allocations among programs will continue with- out major change. PROGRAM SCOPE AND STRUCTURE There is a significant need for a research support program with the diverse focus of the ANS program. Despite some inherent overlap with other NSF programs, the committee believes that ANS should be the central program within the National Science Foundation covering research in the natural sciences in the Arctic. Conclusions Opportunities for funding within ANS should continue to be unfettered by emphasis on thematic considerations. Individual as well as joint or cooperative proposals should have equal access to the available funding. . A substantial advantage of the present ANS structure is that it can accommo- date and encourage the growing trend toward multidisciplinary research because it is not confined by traditional disciplinary boundaries. The present broad scope of the program should continue. . The sometimes unclear boundaries between the ANS program and other NSF programs with arctic elements create a management challenge that is best addressed soon, while the program is still young and malleable. The solution lies primarily in improved management rather than in restructuring or redefining the program. Recommendations To best reflect the broad purpose of the ANS program within the OPP con- text, OPP should adopt the following mission statement for the ANS program: "The mission of the Arctic Natural Sciences program is to fund cutting-edge research dealing with any aspect of the Arctic's atmospheric, terrestrial, and marine systems. The program focuses on proposals that contribute to under

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42 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NSF'S ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES PROGRAM standing and predicting the unique elements and processes that are part of the arctic environment." . ANS program staff should use the guidelines provided in Chapter 4 or some other set of clear guidelines to help make judgments about whether proposed research fits within the ANS mission and should publicize the guidelines to help reduce confusion about overlap with other NSF programs. . The head of the Arctic Sciences Section should divide the ANS's broad scientific program into three spheres, each of which is larger than a single disci- pline. The suggested spheres are: atmospheric systems, terrestrial systems, and marine systems. These spheres should have flexible boundaries in terms of both subject matter and allocation of dollars; in general, funding would follow current patterns. The spheres would be defined as follows: Atmospheric systems would include studies of the troposphere, strato- sphere, ionosphere, and space physics, with the latter including physical and chemical studies from the Earth's surface to the sun, surface exchange pro- cesses, and interactions between the biosphere and atmosphere. Terrestrial systems would include studies of terrestrial biology and ecol- ogy; glaciology (including glaciers, ice sheets, snow, and permafrost); land- based geology; Earth surface processes; past environmental history; and freshwater. Marine systems would include studies of biological and marine ecosys- tems, marine geology and geophysics, physical and chemical oceanography, sea-ice, and paleomarine issues. These three scientific spheres are not mutually exclusive; proposals may overlap spheres or deal with interactions among spheres. Consequently, a pro- posal may very well be evaluated and funded by more than one sphere, or as- signed to a single sphere for easier management. The value of dividing ANS research among three spheres is that this structure blends related intellectual thrusts while imposing a more manageable limit on the diversity and volume of proposals to be considered and compared. Program managers and staff should treat the spheres as of intrinsically equal importance, although they do not have to be equal in terms of the number of proposals submitted or funded, or in allocation of dollars. (Related recommenda- tions dealing with proposal review and funding allocation under the three sphere scenario appear later in this chapter.) MANAGEMENT STRATEGY The committee reviewed the ANS program's current management strategy to determine whether its strategy and staffing levels are adequate. Since the

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 43 committee began its work, some management changes have occurred. When we began, the program was staffed by one staff person; other staff some full time and some part time have since been assigned to assist, and some permanent personnel have been transferred to the program. These are steps in the right direction, but because they were ongoing as this report was being prepared, we provide the following thoughts with the original management structure as our base. . Conclusion The diversity of subjects covered by the ANS program is too broad for a single program manager to cover with adequate depth and consistency, and ad- justments in management strategy and staffing are needed to ensure proper re- view of proposals and balanced decisionmaking about funding. Recommendations To improve the management of the ANS program, OPP could assign man- agement responsibility to be shared among three staff members, one responsible for each sphere. These staff should be of equal status and report to the Arctic Section Head. Care would need to be taken not to create three "mini-programs," which might lose the benefits of size and multidisciplinary focus that are ANS's chief benefits, and which also might be eclipsed by larger programs like ARCSS. The challenge of managing a diverse scientific program requires staff with particularly broad backgrounds, because staff must be able to identify the best and most innovative research proposals within all the fields encompassed by the program. For this reason, the program manager positioners) should not be filled with rotating employees who serve for only two years or similarly short periods. Alternatively, if there are multiple managers (as suggested above) at least one or two should be permanent. The argument for making the program managers permanent is based on the committee's belief that there are few working scien- tists who could adequately and quickly become effective in this broadly-based program, and it will always be difficult to replace incumbents at the end of any two-year term. Gaps in staffing would be problematic. The Arctic Section Head provides leadership to the entire Arctic Section, but because of the key role and diversity of the ANS program he or she should serve more directly as the lead supervisor overseeing the ANS program staff and con- tinually reassessing the balance, interactions, cooperation, and resource partition- ing among the spheres. If the Arctic Section head position remains one filled by rotating employees, it must continue to be someone of significant authority. OPP should make a clear statement to the scientific community updating researchers about the mission of the ANS program and its relationships with .

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44 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NSF'S ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES PROGRAM other programs. Such a statement could also clarify logistical support issues that seem perplexing to many researchers (discussed in more detail later in this chap- ter). SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES What seems to make management of the ANS program challenging is its breadth how can one decisionmaker, a program manager, know all the relevant fields equally well and truly be aware of emerging issues and needs? It will always be more difficult to make judgments in fields beyond your own, although that can be alleviated to some extent by selecting staff with broad backgrounds and over time as the staff's knowledge increases. Using the three spheres should reduce the need to compare across disciplinary boundaries, and additional staff will increase in-house expertise available to make judgments. But other mecha- nisms can be incorporated into the decision-making process to, in essence, en- large the program manager's view and help identify high-priority research projects. Setting priorities should involve input from at least three groups: NSF man- agement, to be sure that the priorities selected support broader agency goals and strategic planning; the scientific communities who will be requesting funds, to be sure that the priorities selected represent what they believe are the most important and cutting-edge issues; and, finally, representatives of related research pro- grams and agencies, to be sure there is coordination of effort and to limit dupli- cation of effort. This input can be gained in a one-time exercise like a workshop, a more long-term approach would be to use existing activities to solicit ongoing input that is, use existing mail review and panel review processes to judge proposal quality and gain insight into the level of importance of the work. Other mechanisms to assist in priority-setting can be using a Committee of Visitors tailored to give appropriate input, involving subcommittees of the Office Advi- sory Committee, and hosting town meetings at large conferences such as the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. These processes, combined with input from NSF staff and input from other agency staff, should be adequate to reflect the full range of views. It is the job of the program staff to synthesize the information and make final judgments about priorities. If the ANS program elects to impose the three spheres suggested by this committee, it will help with the process of identifying research priorities on an ongoing basis because the mail reviews will be focused by sphere. The panel reviewers, with some additional instruction, can then help balance the total port- folio. Using the three spheres should reduce the necessity to compare "across" disciplinary boundaries. The additional staff we envision associated with the three spheres, in turn, increases the in-house expertise available to make judg- ments.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 45 Conclusions The fundamental strength of the ANS program is that it is a general program covering a broad range of topics. Priority-setting will always be a part of decisionmaking where budgets are limited, but the selection of specific themes that dictate program direction and are solicited as such should not be the driver behind the ANS program. The setting of priorities should not be a one-time event but a flexible process. Mail-in reviews, panel reviews, and other NSF and agency staff with arctic ex- pertise can play key roles in helping ANS management identify priorities and maintain a dynamic balance among the needs in the three research spheres. Mail- in and panel reviews are especially important because they foster involvement of active researchers and allow access to the community's thinking about what areas are important for investigation. Recommendations The first stage in proposal review is to separate proposals into the three research spheres with all staff participating in the assignment of all proposals. Mail-in reviews would then be sought via standard OPP procedures from care- fully selected scientists, by sphere. After the mail-in reviews are received and considered, each ANS staff member would select the top proposals in his or her sphere (e.g., the top 30 percent, or whatever proportion seems appropriate given the proposal pressure and funding available) to be considered as serious candi- dates for funding. Next, ANS staff should, under the leadership of the Arctic Section Head, set up a multidisciplinary review panel to meet and consider the top proposals. The panel should include two members of the research community from each sphere plus representatives of the Arctic Affiliates (that is, all NSF program managers whose portfolios include arctic research projects and selected representatives from other federal agencies supporting arctic research). At this meeting, the top ANS proposals should be considered in the context of the totality of known research activity in the upcoming year. The proposals should be discussed indi- vidually and priority for funding suggested, in accordance with typical NSF panel review procedures. The proposal selection process within ANS could be improved by involving non-OPP program managers who fund studies related to arctic natural science in the panel reviews. Finding ways to involve representatives of other federal agencies that fund or conduct related research in the Arctic would also, over time, promote the efficient use and leveraging of research resources; help reduce dupli- cation; and increase collaboration to support common facilities, logistics, and research goals. Better coordination with other units of NSF might be facilitated by appointing liaisons from the most appropriate units (e.g., the Geosciences or

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46 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NSF'S ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES PROGRAM Biology Directorates) to attend meetings of the OPP's Office Advisory Commit- tee and vice versa. Although there should be broad input into this process including the mail- in reviews, the advice of the Arctic Affiliates, and advice from the multidisciplinary panel ultimate decisionmaking should remain with the ANS program staff. It is very important that the final decisions be an agreed-upon compromise between competing viewpoints and science agendas. The Arctic Section Head should help to broker compromise as needed among program staff and the three spheres. . If OPP decides that a list of current research priorities is needed to guide the ANS program as it leaves its start-up phase and matures, ANS managers or an outside body can be charged to convene a workshop involving principal investi- gators, other researchers interested in the areas funded by ANS, and the Arctic Affiliates, including representatives of the ARCSS program so as to clarify and maintain the distinctions between ARCSS and ANS. The objectives of such a workshop would be: to give the ANS program managers and the head of the Arctic Section direct input from the research community regarding their sense of future research goals within each of the three spheres and the links between them; and to discuss the current range of ad hoc international research activities and connections that exist within the research community and how these links might be formalized and strengthened. A workshop might also explore the ongoing issue of logistics support and, in particular, the potential impacts of the new Coast Guard ship, USCGC Healy, on the ANS program. Such a workshop should be held only if OPP determines that it needs a list of concrete research priorities to steer the ANS program, because additional meetings require time from researchers and use funds that could other- wise be applied to support research. Also, care would be necessary to work against the tendency for meetings to lead to "big science" and to be sure that the ANS door remains open to individual researchers. The greatest challenge in organizing a workshop would be to maintain the interest of the diverse partici pants. AGENCY ANDINTERNATIONALCOOPERATION Since many nations have territory in the Arctic and even more are actively involved in arctic research, international cooperation is critical in optimizing opportunities and cost effectiveness in the pursuit of research. Building interna- tional cooperation is a long-term activity, and so it is not surprising that it is not yet a large element of the ANS program. As staff numbers and experience

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 47 increase, it will be easier to develop the necessary connections to and knowledge of international activities. Similarly, several federal agencies have responsibilities that lead them to be involved in research in the Arctic. Cooperation is critical so these efforts are not duplicative and are coordinated to best advantage. Coordination and communi- cation within units of the National Science Foundation are, of course, also essen- tial since a number of programs have arctic natural science dimensions. A coor- dinated U.S. effort is vital to ensure that the nation participates fully and in a unified manner in international activities. Conclusions . International cooperation and collaboration should be fostered and encour- aged. Although a research proposal cannot be judged solely on whether it has an international dimension, appropriate collaborations across national boundaries should be considered an advantage. Such collaborations can leverage resources, open access to data, and ensure that the United States has input to, and receives contributions and in-kind support from, international efforts. . Interagency cooperation and collaboration are critical to efficient use of limited resources. Communication and collaboration among the NSF units that address various aspects of natural science in polar regions needs to be improved, including be- tween the Antarctic and Arctic Science Sections and between the ANS program and relevant programs outside of the Office of Polar Programs. Recommendations . ANS program staff can take steps to encourage participation in international scientific investigations. For instance, ANS staff should be intimately familiar with international opportunities to leverage resources or to capitalize on the availability of facilities or research platforms. Such opportunities often emerge from international research initiatives; staff should promote the necessary link- ages. . ANS staff should facilitate and give careful consideration to research that proposes to gather data of use to the international arctic science community and that involves collaboration with international partners. The program should be open to funding travel grants or supplements, within the existing proposal selec- tion process, so participants can meet for international planning purposes. Timing is often an important factor in collaborative international efforts. Projects developed among many nations often have a long planning horizon, and U.S. participants must work within that schedule. Where possible, ANS should be flexible in the timing of awards and provision of logistics support to match the needs of international projects. .

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48 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NSF'S ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES PROGRAM NSF's International Programs Division should be asked to assist financially with the development of international scientific collaborations. The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee already exists as a mechanism to help agencies coordinate their arctic research activities, and the community of involved federal agencies is not so large that another formal mecha- nism is needed. But improved communication and increased informal interac- tion among key staff are needed in order to establish a foundation for real coop- eration including, perhaps, involvement of appropriate agency personnel as Arctic Affiliates involved in aspects of the review process. ANS program staff should take steps to improve communication with other NSF units with relevant programs, such as the Earth System History program. Benefit can be gained by increased informal interactions among staff, but also via mechanisms such as periodic meetings of the proposed Arctic Affiliates or invi- tation of appropriate staff to meetings of the Office Advisory Committee. Shar- ing expertise in these ways can do much to bring a wide range of expertise to the ANS program and help its staff manage the program' s diverse portfolio. . LOGISTICS SUPPORT The committee heard numerous expressions of concern from the research community about issues related to logistics support for research in the Arctic. Many comments related to finding platforms for field work, and there was virtu- ally universal concern that logistics costs for arctic work had to be borne by science budgets. The committee recognizes that comparisons between arctic and antarctic logistics are not entirely apt. For instance, access to research sites in the Arctic is not as difficult in many ways because of the extensive infrastructure that is already in place. Nor are arctic researchers seeking to create a large bureau- cracy or standardized procedures, because great flexibility is often necessary in arranging logistics in the Arctic. Nevertheless, it seems unrealistic to expect ANS and the rest of the Arctic Section to take leading roles in arctic research without devoting more time to the associated logistical challenges. Conclusion OPP must provide significant personnel and funds to support logistics needs in the Arctic. This support need not be "equal" to the antarctic logistics support provided by the Polar Support Section, because the settings are very different. In fact, many in the arctic research community appreciate the flexibility they have to arrange their own logistics. But there is extensive community dissatisfaction with the current approach.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 49 Recommendation An office dedicated to arctic logistics could be incorporated into the Arctic Section or into the Polar Support Section. The office's role would be mainly one of coordination, although it could take on more responsibility where scientifically and economically beneficial, and take a less active role where the principal inves- tigator has the knowledge or access to be more effective. Generally, an office for arctic logistics would: Know the predicted logistics needs of funded proposals for at least the next two years, and help in coordinating activities and providing the greatest support at the least cost. The office could track opportunities for researchers to share logistics capabilities. Know what governmental and commercial facilities are available for providing logistics support and help investigators take advantage of this support. Besides acting as a liaison with the Coast Guard and Navy for ship support, the office could know what other science aircraft and support are available from the Department of Defense, Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Adminis- tration, and other branches of the National Science Foundation. The office would try to arrange for use of these platforms at the least possible cost. Become familiar with the procedures and contacts needed to work in other arctic nations and their territorial waters. These requirements change with time and vary for different research platforms. Sometimes, gaining approvals for work in other countries is easier if an overarching agreement between national agencies is already in place. In these areas, the arctic logistics office could advise NSF and other federal agencies of the need for such agreements and help in their implementation. In addition, the office would also have to gauge when its participation would be less effective or even counterproductive compared to personal contacts by individual scien- tists. PROGRAM DATA AVAILABILITY The ANS program is relatively young, and thus not much information about it has been accumulated. In the course of its work, the committee requested certain data describing ANS awards and funding patterns that were needed to support this assessment. The requested information was not readily available and compiling it required a significant amount of work. An OPP Committee of Visitors had similar difficulties in getting information, which it attributed to OPP's reorganization, inadequate computing capabilities, and a lack of thought

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so FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NSF'S ARCTIC NATURAL SCIENCES PROGRAM about what types of data should be recorded. In addition to needing information for program planning, accurate accounting of the ANS program's accomplish- ments will be necessary within the National Science Foundation's overall effort to comply with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, which seeks to improve the effectiveness of federal programs through strategic plan- ning, goal setting, and performance assessment. Conclusion Good record-keeping is essential to good program management. Accurate, basic information on the size and types of awards and other standard information should be kept in computer databases that are easily accessible to staff and easily interpreted. Recommendation If it does not already exist, OPP should develop an organized, workable database containing appropriate proposal information so it can be an accessible and useful resource to staff, supervisors, and others to monitor the ANS program as it evolves. If such a system already exists, ANS program data should be entered so that over time a useful body of information is accumulated that will hold lessons about program strengths and weaknesses and guide future decisionmakers.