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Response to March 2005 VCAT Report to NIST Director

June 1, 2005

Dr. April Schweighart
Chair, Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
National Institute of Standards and Technology
3205 Barker Hollow Pass
Austin, TX 78739

Dear April,

Thank you for your feedback on the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT) meeting held on March 15-16, 2005. We are happy that the orientation aided the new members in understanding NIST's role in innovation, aiding the U.S. economy, and improving the quality of life. The VCAT suggestions and ideas are very useful to NIST and we sincerely appreciate the time and effort that VCAT members devote to this process.

In response to your requests, at the June VCAT meeting:

-We will summarize some of the steps our management and strategic working groups are taking in our focus areas to integrate our programs and maximize their impact.
-We will share with you our revised vision for the U.S. Measurement System initiative. The new vision, A strong private-public partnership that roadmaps America's measurement needs and strengthens the U.S. infrastructure for innovation, focuses on NIST's intent to work with others to define the Nation's priority measurement infrastructure needs and identify solutions to those needs. At the next meeting, Rich Kayser will be reviewing the revised vision statement during his update on implementing the USMS.
-An update of our performance on the balanced scorecard metrics will be included in the briefing materials.

Organizational Excellence - People and Safety
The senior management team focused on the employee survey at their spring retreat and has developed and started to implement steps to improve operations and management of NIST using information gathered from many focus group discussions with staff. The focus groups were used to review the survey and focus our efforts on specific areas as well as to review and prioritize the NIST management's responses.

NIST is having a Safety Day in Boulder on June 1 and in Gaithersburg on June 2 to enhance our awareness of safety-related issues and improve the safety of our work environment. We are in the final stages of approving a new personal protective equipment policy to improve the safety of NIST staff and associates. Our safety committees are also looking into ways of collecting more safety data that will enable us to strengthen our efforts to prevent safety incidents.

We have received approval from the Office of Personnel Management for the planned revisions to our pay-for-performance system. The revised system will be implemented at the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2005.

You may recall that we contracted for an independent facilities condition assessment study that we received in February 24, 2004. As we develop and implement plans to bring staff back from NIST North we continue to evaluate our facility needs in the face of our current and future research and staffing needs. Building 222 is where many of the NIST North staff will be placed and it is in the middle of a complete renovation. We hope you will have a chance to see this during one of your next visits.

World Trade Center
The recommendations from the NIST investigation will be made public in New York City on June 23, 2005. NIST will hold both a media and a public briefing for victims' families, state and local officials and other interested parties. The report includes recommendations to help make buildings, occupants, and first responders safer in future emergencies and will be open to public comment. These comments will be taken into consideration for the final report of recommendations.

Laboratory Tours
Thank you for your interest and compliments on our laboratory staff and projects. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality and maximize the impact of our research activities. We currently have several models for working with industry, academia and other agencies. Consortia, such as the one you heard about for combinatorial discovery in polymers, are good examples of one such model. We are currently looking to improve the impact and support of our research through focusing on various modes of partnership that encourage more participation from all the parties involved and more significant sharing of resources.

I thank you and the entire VCAT for your efforts to help us make NIST the most productive and highest impact agency possible. NIST continues to strive towards improving our management practices and building the strongest possible innovation infrastructure for the U.S. Your input is an integral and valued part of this task. I look forward to seeing you all again in June.


Hratch G. Semerjian
Acting Director

Created August 18, 2009, Updated September 9, 2021