AS governments attempt to reduce the scale of their activities in the face of deficit reduction exercises and improve the efficiency and management of their operations, federal laboratories have not been spared. In many countries, the relative share of government-performed science and technology has declined. Downsizing has thus brought questions of scientific capacity and priority setting to the fore. By taking the case of Canada, this paper explores the meaning of these shifts in resources, re-casts the role of government labs in the public interest, and outlines a recent exercise to use a scenario approach—in lieu of a formal foresight activity—to re-establish mandates and directions.capacity, priority setting, science-based departments and agencies (SBDAs), scenario building,
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