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December 3, 2004

Ms. April Schweighart
Chair, Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
National Institute of Standards and Technology
3205 Barker Hollow Pass
Austin, TX 78739

Dear April,

I apologize for the delay in responding to your letter sent after the September 2004 VCAT meeting. Now that the uncertainty surrounding the Presidential election and the FY 2005 spending bill are lifted, however, I am better able to respond to your excellent feedback on both our strengths and on the areas where we can improve to ensure that we are maximizing our ability to foster innovation, trade, public safety and security, and jobs.

First, I want to thank the committee for participating in the Boulder rededication ceremony preceding our September meeting. Your presence meant a lot to our Boulder staff and me. Second, I offer the following responses to the points in your letter:

Performance Evaluation
We are currently preparing a primer on NIST performance evaluation that will provide the type of detail the VCAT is looking for on the topic. We anticipate offering to present key examples of how the value chain and the associated evaluation tools have been applied in specific projects and programs at future VCAT meetings.

I agree that it is important to continue conducting retrospective studies of NIST impact in selected areas. Indeed, NIST anticipates initiating one such study in FY 2005 and will apprise and solicit input from the VCAT on study design.

Strategic Planning and Outreach
NIST has benefited enormously from VCAT input on our evolving strategic plan for outreach. Chief of Staff Mat Heyman will present the current plan to the VCAT at this month's meeting and we look forward to continued collaboration with the VCAT in this area.

Safety
Beginning with this month's meeting, I plan to apprise the VCAT quarterly of our key safety measures and associated policies through my NIST Update presentation. I welcome the opportunity to work directly with VCAT members who are able to provide expert guidance on safety issues outside the quarterly meetings, and have asked NIST Safety Council Chair Bill Koch to follow up with VCAT Vice-Chair Deb Grubbe to pursue such guidance.

Annual Report Recommendations
I am pleased that the VCAT found my responses to the 2003 Annual Report recommendations useful. I plan to present a consolidated response to major recommendations made by the VCAT at each 4th quarter meeting. In addition, I will continue sending my responses to your quarterly recommendations for posting on your web site. I believe this two-pronged approach will help us accelerate continuous improvement and achieve a more productive relationship with the VCAT over time.

NIST continues to evolve to higher levels of performance as of result of your valuable feedback. We look forward to your further contributions to NIST and its programs.

Sincerely,

Hratch G. Semerjian
Acting Director