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COOPERATIVE STEWARDSHIP: Managing the Nation’s Multidisciplinary User Facilities for Research with Synchrotron Radiation, Neutrons, and High Magnetic Fields Executive Summary The nation’s six synchrotron light sources, five neutron sources, and high-field magnet laboratory are uniquely valuable resources that contribute to the development of new products and processes, create jobs, enhance the skill level of the U.S. scientific community, and increase U.S. competitiveness. Because of the high cost of building and operating these facilities,1 only a limited number can be funded and they must be made widely available. Each user facility consists of a core that generates the desired photons, neutrons, or magnetic fields and a surrounding array of experimental units that enable users to apply these commodities to research problems. These facilities, predominantly at universities and federal laboratories, are made available to national and international users for on-site experiments. Some 7,000 scientists use the facilities each year to conduct research supported by federal agencies, industry, private institutions, or the facilities themselves. The current replacement value of the facility cores exceeds $5 billion. The annual operating costs for the facilities approach $300 million. Instrumenting and operating the experimental stations at the facilities require a significant additional 1 Government funding agencies initially referred to these facilities as “materials facilities” or “major materials research facilities” because many early users were from the materials science community. However, in recent years the user community has broadened enormously to include biologists, chemists, and environmental scientists. Not only have these more recent users made significant scientific and technological discoveries, but their successes are also fueling an unprecedented expansion of activities at these facilities. It is thus more appropriate to call these facilities “multidisciplinary user facilities” or just “user facilities,” and the latter is the term used in this report.
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COOPERATIVE STEWARDSHIP: Managing the Nation’s Multidisciplinary User Facilities for Research with Synchrotron Radiation, Neutrons, and High Magnetic Fields investment that is shared by the facilities, other federal agencies, industry, and private institutions. The facilities represent a large and continuing investment of U.S. resources, and their ultimate owner —the public—expects maximum returns in terms of scientific and technological achievements. This investment has indeed paid off handsomely for the public for several decades. Facility management and financing have evolved over the years, and most facilities are now managed with what might be termed the “steward-partner model.” In this model, a single government agency (the steward) manages and funds a facility core, while the individual experimental units where research is conducted are managed and funded either by the steward or by other federal agencies, industry, or private institutions (the partners). When their missions and interests coincide, the steward and the users often receive support from similar sources and approach use of the facilities with similar backgrounds, experience, and expectations. This coincidence of interests and experience enables the steward-partner model to satisfactorily provide facility resources to the scientific community. As discussed in Chapter 2, because of the growing number and diversity of users (Figure ES.1) and financial constraints, the missions, interests, and experience of the steward and users no longer coincide. In particular, at synchrotron facilities the number of users carrying out research in the life sciences has increased significantly. Because the life sciences are largely outside the traditional missions of the facility stewards, and because many of the new users require more facility and staff support than the traditional users, this growth has raised questions about the identity of the appropriate stewards and sources of facility funding. Financial constraints have also impeded funding for state-of-the-art instrumentation at the neutron facilities, so much so that some neutrons produced by the cores may not be optimally used (BESAC, 1993). Conducted to explore strategies for addressing changing patterns of facilities use and their implications for facilities management to support scientific research, this study discusses several key issues: Adequacy of funding. In the last decade, growth in the numbers of both facilities and users has strained the budgets of funding agencies. While ad hoc methods have provided additional operating funds for the facilities, the funding agencies still struggle to upgrade and run the facilities while maintaining support for their traditional mission area research programs at efficient levels. Stability of funding. Currently a single steward has the responsibility for funding and maintaining each core facility. Because of the broadening of the user communities, there is pressure to expand the sources of core funding. However, history has demonstrated that if core operations and maintenance become dependent on dispersed funding, the entire facility operation may be threatened by the reduction or withdrawal of support by a single component.
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COOPERATIVE STEWARDSHIP: Managing the Nation’s Multidisciplinary User Facilities for Research with Synchrotron Radiation, Neutrons, and High Magnetic Fields FIGURE ES.1 Growth in aggregate users at U.S. synchrotron, neutron, and high-magnetic-field facilities by field over time. Users at CHESS, SRC, and NIST CNR: 1990 and 1998; users at ALS, APS, NSLS, SSRL, HFIR, HFBR, IPNS, and LANSCE: 1990 and 1997; users at NHMFL: 1995 and 1998 (see Appendix E for an explanation of acronyms). SOURCE: Information supplied to the committee by Jack Rush, NIST CNR, on May 4, 1999; Sol M. Gruner, CHESS, on May 5, 1999; Janet Patten, NHMFL, on May 10, 1999; James W. Taylor, SRC, on May 17, 1999; and DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences on June 10, 1999. Adequacy of instrumentation. Sufficient funding for the development, provision, maintenance, and upgrading of experimental instrumentation has seldom been available from the steward agencies. As a result, partnerships have been formed with outside groups to provide expertise and financing for experimental units at most of the synchrotron facilities. A lack of such partnerships at neutron facilities, combined with inadequate funding, has contributed in part to gross inadequacies in experimental instrumentation. Changing user demographics. The user communities of synchrotron, neutron, and high-magnetic-field facilities have increased significantly in recent years; the growth in the number of users from the biological community of synchrotron facilities is particularly notable. Many new users need more training and support from the facility than did their predecessors, and this further strains facility operating budgets. In addition, changes in the user demographics of a facility may lead to a mismatch between the mission of the primary funding agency and the scientific aims of the user community being served. Legal concerns. Facility users must sign agreements that are not transferable from one facility to another and that are considered by many to be unnecessarily complicated. In addition, the unresolved question of whether researchers
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COOPERATIVE STEWARDSHIP: Managing the Nation’s Multidisciplinary User Facilities for Research with Synchrotron Radiation, Neutrons, and High Magnetic Fields can retain full intellectual property rights to research conducted at the facilities is a concern to many users, especially at DOE facilities. The committee examined recent trends in use and user demographics at each type of facility, as well as management models that have been used in the United States and in Europe. The committee concludes that the current steward-partner model should continue to provide the basic model for facilities management, but a permanent working group composed of stewards and partner agencies should be established to address issues that require the attention of all stakeholders. This enhanced management model is referred to as the cooperative stewardship model. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Finding: The synchrotron, neutron, and high-magnetic-field user facilities in the United States have contributed substantially to the advance of science and technology across a growing range of disciplines. But increases in the costs, management complexity, and diversity and number of users have created a need for a more coherent and better-articulated strategy for managing these facilities. Recommendation: To ensure continued scientific and technological excellence and innovation at multidisciplinary user research facilities, U.S. funding agencies should adopt a cooperative stewardship model for managing the facilities. The elements of the cooperative stewardship model are the following: Responsibility for design, construction, operation, maintenance, and upgrading of each facility core should rest with a single clearly identified federal agency—the steward. The steward’s budget should contain sufficient funds for design, construction, maintenance, operation, and upgrading of the facility core. The steward should engage the partners—other agencies, industry, and private institutions—in the planning, design, construction, support, and funding of the experimental stations and other subfacilities. The steward can also function as a partner in, for example, supporting experimental units or joining with others to form user groups. The steward should support a robust in-house basic scientific research program. This program should be of sufficient magnitude and diversity to ensure that the steward’s mission is addressed and that external users have adequate quality and quantity of collaboration and technical support in their fields. The steward should support in-house scientific research to advance the science and technology required to produce high-quality photon and neutron beams and high magnetic fields.
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COOPERATIVE STEWARDSHIP: Managing the Nation’s Multidisciplinary User Facilities for Research with Synchrotron Radiation, Neutrons, and High Magnetic Fields Finding: As the size and disciplinary diversity of the scientific user community have increased, the programmatic heterogeneity and demands for funding have often grown beyond the scientific expertise and budgets of the steward agencies. Partners have provided assistance to the stewards, but only on an ad hoc basis. Recommendation: A permanent interagency facilities working group, made up of representation from the appropriate steward and partner federal agencies, should be created under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to identify issues and to coordinate responses to needs that transcend the missions of the steward agencies. This group should be charged to: Review and coordinate support for the facility stewards’ core operations and maintenance budget requests to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress. Review and, if necessary, prioritize agency proposals to upgrade, create, or terminate facilities based on national needs and facility effectiveness. Monitor trends in the science, instrumentation, and user demographics at facilities and recommend changes in facility capabilities and funding levels and sources as needed. Periodically appraise facility performance in meeting the needs of the scientific user communities. Periodically investigate the need to shift stewardship of a facility either within or between agencies. Develop guidelines for agency cost sharing based on usage. Periodically examine user support and training levels to allow for changes in user demographics. Finding: Each facility has implicit or explicit agreements with its users that address rights and responsibilities of both parties in such matters as safety, operations, logistics, proprietary research, and costs. These user agreements vary substantially in their complexity and requirements. Among facilities managed by the same steward—and even at the same site—there can be substantial differences that create difficulties for users and reduce the overall effectiveness of the facilities in promoting scientific excellence. Recommendation: Steward agencies, facility management, and the facility user communities should reexamine and modify their user agreements to achieve maximum simplicity, uniformity, and portability. Finding: Some users access the facilities as a relatively minor part of a more comprehensive research program intended to generate results of potential
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COOPERATIVE STEWARDSHIP: Managing the Nation’s Multidisciplinary User Facilities for Research with Synchrotron Radiation, Neutrons, and High Magnetic Fields commercial value. Current intellectual property policies, which appear to be a mix of agency-specific legal requirements and facility-generated practices, are complex and uneven across stewards and facilities and may not be appropriate for effective facility use. These factors can inhibit or needlessly complicate participation at the facilities. Recommendation: The current intellectual property policies and practices at the facilities should be carefully assessed by an independent commission composed of representatives of steward and partner agencies; university, private company, and research institute partners; and user groups. The commission should recommend changes to optimize the protection of researcher and taxpayer interests and facilitate development of scientific findings.
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