The Department of Energy's Office of Science has released a Strategic Plan for the next twenty years. Complementing the twenty year facilities plan issued last November (see http://www.aip.org/enews/fyi/2003/150.html) the two reports chart the course that the Office of Science intends to pursue in the next two decades.
The Strategic Plan was the result of many interactions with the Office of Science's Advisory Committees, senior officials of national laboratories and the university community, and other interested individuals, as well as a review of policy documents. The plan contains numerous illustrations and layman-oriented descriptions of various programs, and can be accessed at http://www.sc.doe.gov/Sub/Mission/Mission_Strategic.htm.
The Strategic Plan accomplishes at least two objectives. As was true with the facilities plan, it sets forth in a straightforward manner the Office of Science's intentions for the next twenty years. Both documents also clarify for the nontechnical reader what the Office of Science wants to accomplish, and why that research is important.
Seven overarching goals for the Office of Science provide the structure for the report. They are:
1. Advance the Basic Sciences for Energy Independence
2. Harness the Power of Our Living World
3. Bring the Power of the Stars to Earth
4. Explore the Fundamental Interactions of Energy, Matter, Time and Space
5. Explore Nuclear Matter - from Quarks to Stars
6. Deliver Computing for the Frontiers of Science
7. Provide the Resource Foundations that Enable Great Science
For each goal, there is a ten to twelve page section describing the rationale for the goal, important questions to be answered, a historical overview of previous discoveries, research strategies, and key indicators of success. Of perhaps greatest interest for researchers are two-page Strategic Timetables setting forth how the Office of Science would proceed through the year 2025. This timetable has two categories: The Science and Future Facilities.
In reviewing these Strategic Timetables, it is important to bear in mind the important footnote at the bottom of the page: "These strategic milestones are illustrative and depend on funds made available through the Federal budget process."
The Strategic Plan and the Facilities Plan will play important roles in securing those federal funds in this and future sessions of Congress. The reports are being well-received on Capitol Hill, with Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) telling Office of Science Director Ray Orbach at a hearing last week that the Facilities Plan was "terrific." Domenici said that he hoped the report would receive wide exposure, which is the next order of business for the Office of Science, and as importantly, the scientific community that relies on the programs and facilities of the Office of Science.