A model for making project funding decisions at the National Cancer Institute

Oper Res. 1992 Nov-Dec;40(6):1040-52. doi: 10.1287/opre.40.6.1040.


This paper describes the development of a model for making project funding decisions at The National Cancer Institute (NCI). The American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (ASSIST) is a multiple-year, multiple-site demonstration project, aimed at reducing smoking prevalence. The initial request for ASSIST proposals was answered by about twice as many states as could be funded. Scientific peer review of the proposals was the primary criterion used for funding decisions. However, a modified Delphi process made explicit several criteria of secondary importance. A structured questionnaire identified the relative importance of these secondary criteria, some of which we incorporated into a composite preference function. We modeled the proposal funding decision as a zero-one program, and adjusted the preference function and available budget parametrically to generate many suitable outcomes. The actual funding decision, identified by our model, offers significant advantages over manually generated solutions found by experts at NCI.

MeSH terms

  • Competitive Bidding / organization & administration
  • Competitive Bidding / standards
  • Competitive Bidding / statistics & numerical data
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Decision Support Systems, Management*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.) / economics
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.) / organization & administration*
  • Research Support as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Research Support as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States