Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Quantifying the Performance of International User Facilities

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Grenada (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Martha V. Merrill and Susannah V. Howieson, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute
This project explored the use of performance metrics to demonstrate the impact of scientific facilities known as “user facilities”. The facilities are considered “user” because they are available to external researchers who are awarded access to the facility and its instrumentation through a peer-review process. These facilities often include unique scientific instrumentation and have research implications for multiple scientific disciplines. In total, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratory complex includes over 70 user facilities supporting over 30,000 external researchers. These DOE user facilities are considered by many to provide tremendous value to academia, the private sector, and researchers at other Federal agencies. The performance metrics used to quantify the impact and importance of these facilities include the number of publications and patents produced annually, the total number of users, the number of external research funding sources, the level of demand for access, and the portion of each institution’s budget allocated to running these user facilities.

In order to assess the relative quality of user facilities by region and by type of facility, this project also compared performance metrics for international user facilities. Four of the seven U.S. light source facilities, for example, exist within the DOE laboratory complex with an additional 40 light sources at research institutions around the world. By describing the accessibility, demand, and quality of international user facilities, this work demonstrates the overall impact of the DOE user facilities on the international S&T community, and can be used to make evidence-based budget allocations and other policy decisions, such as prioritizing user facility upgrades.