After 20 years with its research components organized largely by scientific disciplines, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is realigning its laboratories according to a mission-based structure.
Effective on Oct. 1, 2010, the new structure will allow more day-to-day operational decisions to be made by the major laboratory units and will improve interdisciplinary research by making it easier to form research groups with the needed expertise. The change also will provide greater accountability by ensuring that individual laboratories are responsible for all major products and services that meet NIST's specific mission authorities, from the research to develop them to the delivery of products and services to customers.
"The goal of this realignment is to ensure that our laboratory managers have a clear and empowered responsibility to meet NIST's mission of strengthening U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness," says NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "It's about optimizing our organizations to deliver both forefront research results and the related services needed by manufacturers and other customers critical to the U.S. economy."
The realignment consists of two main components:
- replacing the current single deputy director position with three career associate directors responsible for NIST laboratory, extramural, and administrative programs; and
- reducing the number of NIST laboratory units from 10 to six.
The new structure includes two laboratories dedicated to metrology, the Material Measurement Laboratory and the Physical Measurement Laboratory; two dedicated to technology, the Engineering Laboratory and the Information Technology Laboratory; and two user facilities, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Center for Neutron Research.
NIST's realignment plans are supported by the Administration and Congress.