Earlier this month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a new report that standardizes the definition of research and development infrastructure (RDI) across the federal government.
The National Strategic Overview for Research and Development Infrastructure report was prepared by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on RDI, composed of federal agency representatives from across the government. It defines RDI as: “Facilities or systems used by scientific and technical communities to conduct research and development (R&D) or foster innovation.” According to the report, the scope of RDI is “inclusive of and reaches beyond” physical assets and major equipment; it includes scientific collections, data collections, earth observation platforms (such as biological field stations), laboratories, telescopes, and libraries.
The document describes three “elements” of RDI:
- Experimental and Observational Infrastructure, such as the research vessels, satellites, and laboratories;
- Knowledge Infrastructure, such as scientific collections, reference libraries, data repositories, and intellectual property; and
- Research Cyberinfrastructure, such as cloud infrastructure, computing, and broadband networks that support R&D data storage, access, processing, and analyses.
The report provides a strategic vision that outlines key policy opportunities to help agencies optimize RDI investments and planning over the next two decades, including maintaining strong and integrated RDI planning and coordination; ensuring RDIs support a flexible and agile R&D enterprise; advancing RDI capabilities to support the convergence of disciplines and sectors; and balancing RDI openness with security needs. It asserts that any gaps in RDI capabilities “could be filled through new or improved interagency coordination, public-private partnerships, and national and international collaborations.” Read the report.