involvement with the external statistics research community in ways that advance its mission. Given the wonderful array of challenging problems to which the division can contribute—an array that would be coveted by almost any statistics group—there is every reason to believe that the future could and should be extremely bright.
The panel presents the following major observations:
The panel appreciates the openness and responsiveness of ITL management and staff to its requests and suggestions.
The planning process within ITL continues to improve. This year, the panel was particularly pleased by the laboratory-wide strategic plan and the increased emphasis on criteria for beginning and ending projects and the definition of specific goals.
The panel is very concerned about the constant or, in some cases, decreasing staffing levels within ITL. This situation is due in large part to the limited funding available to cover salaries. The panel observes that the situation has two consequences: the first is that ITL personnel are spread very thin and some projects have only single-point coverage; the second is that many areas exist in which NIST participation could make a significant difference but ITL cannot afford to be active at this time.
The new initiatives in computer security represent an exciting opportunity for the ITL. However, care must be taken to ensure that the scope of the programs is aligned with the somewhat limited allotment of funding and the number of personnel available.
Since topics in information technology increasingly cross the laboratory's divisional boundaries, the panel believes that there has to be more emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Although there are no explicit barriers to cross-divisional work, there seems to be little encouragement or support for such projects. A good example of an area in which cross-divisional cooperation must take place is the Pervasive Computing Initiative, which touches almost every division in some way. The panel believes that in such situations, there must be formal coordination among the divisions to ensure that every division that should participate is doing so, that efforts neither conflict nor are duplicated, and that potential synergies are effectively exploited.
The Statistical Engineering Division plays a fundamental role in the execution of the NIST mission throughout the Measurement and Standards Laboratories. To ensure that this group can continue to meet the diverse statistical needs of NIST activities and contribute to the national statistics community, it is important for ITL management to reinforce the message that the work of the division is valued and to identify and hire a strong leader for the division as soon as possible. In addition, both effectiveness and morale would be improved if the division could be moved from NIST North to the main campus. Staff and projects in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division would also benefit from such a relocation.
Provision of information technology support to NIST continues to be an issue. The panel applauds the latest efforts to define a coherent system for services. Some elements, such as a user's forum and input from current support staff, could be added to this effort to increase its chance of success.