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AAS Statement on Community-based Priority Setting in the Astronomical Sciences

Adopted 17 March 2014.

The American Astronomical Society strongly endorses community-based priority setting as a fundamental component in the effective funding, management, and oversight of the federal research enterprise. Broad community input is required in making difficult decisions that will be respected by policymakers and stakeholders. The National Academies' decadal surveys are premier examples of setting priorities with extensive community input. Other National Academy studies, senior and portfolio reviews, standing advisory committee studies, town hall meetings, and mid-decade adjustments to the decadal surveys are also important components. These processes leverage the combined effort and expertise of the community to maximize the scientific return of the public and private investments in the astronomical sciences. These community processes are particularly beneficial during times of highly constrained budgets. Efforts that go outside these long-standing advisory processes in an attempt to benefit or harm specific projects or alter priorities are counterproductive and damage the scientific endeavor as a whole.