A Decision Framework for Prioritizing Industrial Materials Research and Development

by Richard Silberglitt, Lance Sherry

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Federal research and development (R&D) sponsors, managers, and other decisionmakers are faced with increasingly difficult choices on how to allocate shrinking resources among various R&D programs. The authors explore this issue from the perspective of the Department of Energy's Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT). In particular, they examine the challenges the OIT's Industrial Materials for the Future program faces in allocating resources to maximize the reduction of energy use and waste production in nine energy- and waste-intensive U.S. industries. In response to these challenges, RAND developed a decision framework to prioritize multiple R&D activities. The framework uses quantitative estimates of anticipated benefits, the potential of industrial materials to achieve certain properties, and the probability of success of an R&D project to compute an expected value for R&D in a manner that is logical, auditable, and straightforward. The authors recommend using the decision framework to evaluate proposed R&D and to identify and evaluate data that are needed to address various research needs. They also recommend extending the framework's application to other OIT programs and using it to reevaluate programs at a later date as R&D activities progress.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Science and Technology for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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