The work of OLES continues to be well focused on its mission to support standards in the justice and law enforcement communities. This mission is appropriate for a unit within NIST, although in the past it has not been clear that this office belonged within the EEEL. However, this year the panel observed that the interactions between OLES and EEEL management seem to be effective and that the laboratory leadership is very supportive of the OLES programs and missions. Since OLES is thriving, the panel is not recommending making any organizational shifts at this time. OLES appears to be a major national resource for meeting the standardization needs of the law enforcement community.
Fiscal year 1998 funding for the OLES consisted of $4.9 million from the National Institute of Justice and $0.16 million from other agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For fiscal year 1999, the funding estimates are $4.7 million from the National Institute of Justice and $0.17 million from other agencies. As of January 1999, the office had a paid staff of nine, seven of whom were technical professionals.
The importance of this office's work and the customers' satisfaction with the outputs of OLES programs is evidenced by the significant increases in funding received from the U.S. Department of Justice. With these external resources, OLES seems to be providing strong support to the law enforcement community in a number of key areas. In the past, the panel has been somewhat concerned about staffing for the OLES projects, but this issue has been appropriately addressed by the hiring of two new highly qualified people within the past year.
The panel presents the following major observations.
The Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory (EEEL) activities continue to produce important results and to have significant impact on relevant industries.
The leadership transitions at the laboratory level and in the Office of Microelectronics Programs have gone smoothly. The reorganization of the Radio-Frequency Technology Division appears to have resulted in better alignment of NIST resources to current technical needs with minimal disruption to ongoing activities.
Basic facilities issues such as poor air quality and a lack of funding for equipment replacement and maintenance can be expected to make it difficult for staff to efficiently perform high-quality work.
The panel is pleased by the formation of the Office of Optoelectronics Programs to coordinate optoelectronics work throughout NIST. An important next step is establishing this office as a line item in the budget.