resources, from which their ultimate owners—the public—expect maximum returns in terms of scientific and technological achievements.

These facilities have achieved phenomenal success (BESAC, 1997, 1998; NSF, 1988) and have contributed to the evolution of ever more advanced scientific capabilities. These capabilities in turn have attracted a larger and more diverse scientific user community. This same success and growth have created stresses in the system that threaten to make current management and funding methods untenable in the future. Several key issues are addressed in this study.

  • 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 (see Chapter 3 section, “Dispersed Funding and Management Model”).

  • 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 can retain full intellectual property rights to research conducted at the facilities is a concern to many users, especially at DOE facilities.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement