Experimental and observational research depends upon the quality
of the infrastructure and the tools that are accessible to the researcher.
Modern tools provide more coverage, more precision and more accuracy
for experiments and observations. Indeed, some modern tools open
experimental vistas that are closed to those lacking modern infrastructure
Fueled by exponential growth in computing power, communication
bandwidth, and data storage, the Nation's research infrastructure
is increasingly characterized by interconnected, distributed systems
of hardware, software, information bases, and expert systems. The
new research tools arising from this activity enable scientists
and engineers to be more productive and to approach more complex
and different frontier tasks than they could in the past. Also,
because of their distributed character, these tools are becoming
more accessible to increasing numbers of researchers and educators
across the nation, thus putting more ideas to work.
This change has created unprecedented challenges and opportunities
for 21st century scientists and engineers. Consequently, in September
2000, the National Science Board established the Task Force on Science
and Engineering Infrastructure within its Committee on Programs
and Plans. The Task Force was created to assess the current state
of U.S. S&E academic research infrastructure, examine its role
in enabling S&E advances, and identify requirements for a future
This report, Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the
21st Century, presents the findings and recommendations developed
by the task force and approved unanimously by the National Science
Board. The report aims to inform the national dialogue on S&E
infrastructure and highlight the role of NSF as well as the larger
resource and management strategies of interest to Federal policymakers.
On behalf of the National Science Board, I wish to commend Dr.
John White, the chair of the task force, and the other task force
members - Dr. Anita Jones, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Dr. Michael Rossmann,
Dr. Robert Richardson, and Dr. Mark Wrighton of the National Science
Board, and Dr. Mary Clutter, NSF Assistant Director for Biological
Sciences. Mr. Paul Herer of the NSF Office of Integrative Activities
provided superb and tireless support as the Executive secretary
to the task force.
The Board is especially grateful for the strong support provided
throughout by the Director of the National Science Foundation, Dr.
Rita Colwell, and by NSF's Deputy Director, Dr. Joseph Bordogna.
Warren M. Washington
Chair, National Science Board