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Response to December 2003 VCAT Report to NIST Director

January 20, 2004

Dr. Juan M. Sanchez
Vice President for Research
University of Texas, Austin
P.O. Box 7996
Austin, TX 78712-1111

Dear Juan:

I am late in responding to your excellent letter sent before the holidays. I hope they were as enjoyable for you as they were for me. With Congress returning this week we are anxious about the Senate's action on the Omnibus spending bill and the serious damage it will cause NIST if it passes. The more we delve into this the worse it looks.

I wish to thank you and the members of the VCAT for your outstanding 2003 Annual Report. It generously credits NIST for the progress we have made but highlights many key areas where we need to improve. The report will be a valuable reference as we continue our quest for preeminent performance.

In response to the points in your letter I offer the following:

  • We continue to stress customer outreach, advocacy, and benchmarking. We have had excellent interactions with Caterpillar, Dow Chemical Company, and Honeywell as well as with regional, state and local organizations and we are planning visits to UTC and DuPont. We also will be sharing with many of our industry customer and trade groups the negative impacts of our FY 04 budget along with our FY 05 budget initiatives of interest to them as a way of motivating them to share their views, as they see fit, with policy makers.

  • With regard to pay-for-performance, it was the lack of consistency of salary distributions within pay bands across the Institute along with staff complaints concerning equity, complexity and transparency that motivated the Senior Management Board action in seeking improvements to our system.

  • Your comment about benchmarking GE in leadership and management training is timely. Participants in the GE senior management course at GE's Crotonville Training Center visited us a short time ago. Their purpose was to benchmark NIST in the areas of training and policies that can motivate innovation. This exchange along with their final report gave us valuable benchmark data from a number of top-flight government and industrial organizations interviewed by the GE team.

  • We are involving Marc Stanley more actively in shaping our message to outside customers and constituents consistent with your suggestion.

Finally, I wish to thank you for your outstanding leadership on the VCAT. I believe that the VCAT meetings under your chairmanship were exceptionally meaningful and that the 2003 report provided not only an accurate assessment of our current state of strategic planning and implementation but also valuable suggestions for further improvement. The visits with members of Congress and the staff of OMB and OSTP also provided us with valuable feedback and guidance.

Best personal regards.



Arden L. Bement, Jr.

Created August 18, 2009, Updated September 9, 2021