The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) just released its new strategic plan. I was involved in writing the first NIGMS Strategic Plan released in 2008. I must admit that I was skeptical of the value to writing a strategic plan when we started down the path toward this plan. However, I found both the process and the final product useful. It allowed the institute to formalize our commitment to research and training activities, the balance of the use of particular mechanisms, and so on. Even though many aspects of the plan seemed obvious in terms of the culture of NIGMS, I found myself looking back to the plan and referring others to important sections over the next years.
The new NIGMS plan takes a similar approach. One section of interest is:
Objective 1-2: Promote the ability of investigators to pursue new research directions, novel scientific insights and innovative ideas.
This objective includes the following implementation strategies:
1. Align funding decisions with the need to create a broad and diverse research portfolio that maximizes the scientific return on taxpayers’ investments.
2. Support investigators working in underexplored areas of science that are relevant to the NIGMS mission.
3. Conduct regular analyses of NIGMS’ scientific investments to assess their efficacy, distribution and impact, and use this information to help guide programmatic and funding decisions.
4. Pilot and assess alternative mechanisms of funding that emphasize individual investigators, rather than individual projects, to better meet NIGMS goals and objectives.
5. Increase the Institute’s ability to conduct in-depth portfolio analyses and evaluation activities.
Importantly, this includes commitments to analysis and analysis capabilities (strategies 3, 5) as well as a strategy related to the new Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) mechanism.
While I am still going though the plan, plans for other NIH Institutes and Centers are available (although some links on this site are broken).
Do you find these plans of any use? How could they be made more useful?