Subject: 1999 Charge to the National Research Council Board on Assessment of NIST Programs
We are very grateful for your commitment of time and effort to produce the 1999 National Research Council (NRC) Assessment of the NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories. The Assessment is important to us because it is the only external review of the Laboratories that is conducted by technical experts. The experience and fresh insights that you bring to the Assessment are valued by me, the NIST Laboratory Directors, and our staff scientists. Your report will provide critical information to NIST managers as they evaluate the performance and direction of NIST's work.
The core mission of the NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories is to work with U.S. industry to support and improve the Nation' s measurement and standards infrastructure, which U.S. industry needs to continually improve its products and services. NIST provides technical leadership that aids the growth of the U.S. economy and promotes the public welfare through advances in metrology, consensus standards, and scientific understanding. The NIST Laboratories assure the availability of essential reference data and measurement capabilities, and they anticipate the benefits that improved metrology and standards will provide.
Measurements and standards are playing an increasingly important role for our Nation. The global economy links measurements and standards to acceptance of products and services, and increasingly requires information-technology standards for interoperability. These forces drive U.S. industry to demand the best from NIST. History is clear —superiority in metrology is rapidly incorporated into products and confers competitive advantage in the marketplace. More and more, that superiority relies on interdisciplinary approaches and entails being nimble. With your help, the Laboratories will meet my challenge to be best-in-the-world in the quality of our programs and in the delivery of our services.
For the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), evaluation of technical merit through peer review is a valued method of measuring and reporting the performance of projects and programs, especially those that are not expected to show results until future years. The Assessment, by virtue of its independence and high level of technical expertise, is well suited to this task. Your opinions are held in high regard by others in Government who need to know whether or not we are on track to successfully reach our goals. Furthermore, since the Assessment addresses the broad spectrum of work in the NIST Laboratories, it provides
perspective for evaluation of the Laboratories as a whole. Together with other GPRA evaluation metrics, such as output indicators and impact studies, the Assessment is essential for our duties of objective appraisal and continuous improvement.
In its report, I ask the Board on Assessment to assess the technical quality of the Measurements and Standards Laboratories with a focus on:
the technical merit of the laboratory programs relative to the state-of-the-art worldwide;
the effectiveness with which the laboratory programs are carried out and the results disseminated;
the degree to which the laboratory programs are meeting the needs for which they are intended; and,
insofar as they affect the quality of the technical programs, the adequacy of the laboratories' facilities, equipment, and human resources.
I thank you again for contributing your time and expertise to this technical peer review. It is vital for our management process. Welcome to NIST; we look forward to your report.