techniques, technologies and engineers available. Emphasizing the benefits of the S&T park for the Sandia laboratory's core mission is therefore essential to gain public understanding and support. This is in fact the best response to those who question the possibility of private gain from long-term public investments in Sandia's infrastructure and research program.
At the same time, the limited direct federal financial role should be emphasized. Today's discussion made it clear that Sandia's S&T park project is not directly dependent on federal funding. However, Dr. Wessner continued, it is also important to recognize that there are likely to be some indirect costs to taxpayers involved in using a federal lab and federally contracted employees to develop the project. These costs would have to be weighed against what appear to be multiple potential benefits, including the not inconsiderable benefit of maintaining the technological edge of Sandia's facilities and staff. We should also keep in mind that these costs are in any case related to the fixed costs associated with the laboratory's core missions.
Dr. Wessner suggested that concerns about "mission creep" may be overstated. The laboratories have to adopt themselves to the post-Cold War environment both in terms of new sources of technology and new national objectives. Simulated testing is one example. There are others. For example, at the beginning of the symposium, Dr. Kelly suggested a series of potentially valuable applications of laboratory capabilities in areas such as health, environmental remediation, and public safety. Fundamentally, as Dr. Kelly and Dr. Simon both suggested, the Sandia asset base is a unique resource which can help the nation meet evolving security challenges, contribute to the competitiveness of U.S. companies, and advance national welfare.
Concerning the criteria for success, and mechanisms for recognizing failure, as well as the corresponding need for intermediate metrics, Dr. Wessner said that it might be possible to turn to DARPA's experience for help in this area. It is important to recognize publicly, however, that metrics of success are hard to develop, partly because, as many speakers noted, S&T parks have long gestation periods. The Sandia management should note, from a planning perspective, the many references to S&T parks requiring patience and deep pockets.
One of the most provocative challenges raised in today's discussion is that, because of the long gestation period, the failure of this type of initiative may not be readily apparent. It would therefore probably be useful for the Sandia management to develop specific milestones. For example, a regular assessment of user involvement, user satisfaction, and returns to the laboratory would be useful.