This chapter summarizes the theory and practice of public-sector R & D economic analysis with specific reference to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) efforts to document the impact that their in-house R & D has had on society. Motivating this research is the general expectation and challenge for public institutions to be accountable for their use of public resources. Economic impact analysis is one way that public institutions can quantify the social contribution of their activity. Impact analysis can also provide important lessons to management about the effectiveness of previous resource allocation decisions, and it can provide guidelines for future strategic planning. To place R & D impact analysis in a broader perspective, we begin with a brief discussion of R & D evaluations. An evaluation of public-sector R & D programs is based on the criterion of efficiency. The central question asked in an R & D evaluation is: How efficient are all attributes of a public-sector R & D program including the program’s management, its strategic planning, and its investment strategy?
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