The committee has adopted a broad approach to identifying the nature and magnitude of the problems facing the intramural program. In exploring these problems, the committee sought to understand their causes and potential long range effects (Chapter 3). In evaluating alternative solutions to problems, the committee weighed the severity of problems against the risks and advantages of each solution, seeking to ensure that recommendations were targeted to identified problems, while minimizing possible negative side effects (Chapter 4).
It was clear that an examination of a wide range of solutions, including but not confined to privatization, was needed. The committee, therefore, reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of making modest changes in specific administrative problems, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of various types of fundamental organizational restructuring that might offer the promise of greater overall administrative flexibility.
In its recommendations, the committee has tried to move beyond the present to identify future roles for the intramural program, to anticipate future problems, and to recommend solutions with long term validity.
In defining the scope of the study, the committee was aware of the limitations imposed by its six-month study period. The principle question addressed is whether a structural change of NIH is needed to solve personnel and other administrative problems that may be interfering with the quality or mission of the intramural program. The committee looked at the mission and quality of the program from the purview of the intramural program. Readers should therefore understand the limitations of a study that did not specifically explore issues surrounding changes in the extramural program, the relationship of NIH as a whole to other agencies in the DHHS, and questions of the distribution of authority and responsibility between the Director of NIH and the directors of the institutes.
In addition, the committee concluded that it was beyond the scope of its charge to determine the optimal size of the intramural program in relation to the nation’s total biomedical research effort. This study, therefore, does not include analysis or recommendations concerning the desirability of transferring resources from one element of the nation’s biomedical research program to another.
Finally, the committee did not view its charge as developing solutions to government-wide personnel problems, which other national commissions are currently investigating. Nevertheless, the committee recognized that it was important to be aware that NIH is not alone in facing problems common to government organizations. Recommendations that would ask for unprecedented freedom from bureaucratic constraints would require that a sound case be made for unique treatment.