Many posts could be written about the rich history of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), which dates back to 1945 when Colonel K. D. Nichols announced plans for a complete and authoritative scientific record of all research work performed by Manhattan District contractors. However, I want to focus on a specific slice of that history, one that is going strong and is well represented across the DOE complex. I’m referring to DOE’s Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP, www.osti.gov/stip).
Just a month ago, STIP representatives from across the DOE complex convened in Pleasanton, CA, to participate in the annual STIP Working Meeting. This important present-day collaboration, which is coordinated by OSTI, stems from the 1948 establishment of the Technical Information Panel by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). In 1948, the country was just coming to terms with the wealth of scientific research resulting from the Manhattan Project. The formation of the Technical Information Panel was an important step forward for the agency and focused on establishing information policies, ascertaining information needs, recommending information dissemination methods, and serving as an important liaison between central and local organizations.
Today – some 60+ years later – STIP continues to be an important partnership in ensuring that results of the Department’s research are made available to DOE’s central STI organization in order to be made broadly accessible via OSTI web search tools and also through national and international STI web portals. Our STIP partnership works to enable reuse of previous research, preserve R&D results, and enhance transparency.By working together,DOE’s STI Program participants take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies to be efficient and cost effective and allow for maximum use of the research information. In addition, we ensure that appropriate safeguards for statutorily protected information are in place.
The Department has undergone many changes over the years, many of which I have personally witnessed, and the way in which STI is created and managed today is light-years from the typewriters and microfiche of years gone by. Today, DOE is working to support scientific advancement and maximize public value of research by ensuring that STI created in various media and formats is broadly accessible. The STIP collaboration continues to evolve and transform means and methods in order to meet the challenges and opportunities brought by technological advances. It also provides a needed framework when U.S. science priorities emerge, contractors at various National laboratories change, and when sites or facilities close or new programs begin.
Upon returning to work in Oak Ridge the Monday following the STIP meeting, in the midst of working on follow-up actions and discussions, the importance of STIP was firmly validated when a timely email arrived in my inbox: Secretary Chu had just announced the release of the 2011 Department of Energy Strategic Plan. Within the Plan, under the heading “Assure Excellence in R&D Management,” these words are found:
Disseminate our Results. Our success should be measured not when a project is completed or an experiment concluded, but when scientific and technical information is disseminated....
By continuing the collaborative partnership known as STIP, DOE is meeting this goal. “Hats Off!” to our hardworking STIP colleagues from the east coast to the west and the many DOE sites and offices in-between.