1
Introduction

BACKGROUND

Section 214

In October 1998, the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 became law (P.L. 105–261). Section 214 of the act, “Sense of Congress on the Defense Science and Technology Program” (reprinted in Appendix A), expressed congressional concerns about the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) science and technology (S&T) program. These concerns included the growth rate of future DoD S&T funding; university involvement in the DoD S&T program; the relationship between DoD S&T and commercial research and technology; and management of the DoD S&T program. Three distinct recommendations included in Section 214 were related to management. First, it was the sense of Congress that the priority and leadership level for S&T for all three military departments should be raised. Second, the military departments should maintain a long-term focus on new technology areas and provide for periodic reviews to determine if the results of research should be transitioned into development, if the research should be continued, or if the research should be discontinued. Third, each military service, particularly the Air Force, should ensure that sufficient numbers of officers and civilians hold advanced technical degrees. These recommendations, expressed as the “sense” of Congress, were not binding. The last part of Section 214 did include a binding directive requiring the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, to conduct a study of DoD’s technology base.

The study was required to cover three specific areas related to congressional concerns: the minimum requirements for maintaining a technology base that would enable the military to maintain its superiority in air and space weapon systems and in information technology; the effects of reducing future DoD S&T funding below a real growth rate of 2 percent per year; and appropriate levels of staff with advanced degrees and the optimal ratio of civilian and military staff with advanced degrees.

Congressional Concerns

Congressional concerns arose during the 1990s in response to reductions in DoD’s S&T program, particularly the substantial reductions in the Air Force S&T program and in the number of Air Force S&T personnel. From 1989 to 1999, the Air Force S&T budget declined almost 55 percent in real terms compared to a decline in the total DoD budget of about 27 percent (Gessel, 2000). The Air Force S&T program, which had been almost as large as the Army and Navy S&T programs combined, was reduced to the smallest of the three (Tuohy, 1999). From 1996 to 2000, the overall number of DoD and Air Force personnel declined as part of the post-Cold War military drawdown. The percentage reductions in DoD as a whole and in the Air Force were almost identical in terms of overall personnel. The percentage reduction in Air Force S&T personnel at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), however, was almost twice that of the overall Air Force reduction (Gessel, 2000).



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Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program 1 Introduction BACKGROUND Section 214 In October 1998, the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 became law (P.L. 105–261). Section 214 of the act, “Sense of Congress on the Defense Science and Technology Program” (reprinted in Appendix A), expressed congressional concerns about the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) science and technology (S&T) program. These concerns included the growth rate of future DoD S&T funding; university involvement in the DoD S&T program; the relationship between DoD S&T and commercial research and technology; and management of the DoD S&T program. Three distinct recommendations included in Section 214 were related to management. First, it was the sense of Congress that the priority and leadership level for S&T for all three military departments should be raised. Second, the military departments should maintain a long-term focus on new technology areas and provide for periodic reviews to determine if the results of research should be transitioned into development, if the research should be continued, or if the research should be discontinued. Third, each military service, particularly the Air Force, should ensure that sufficient numbers of officers and civilians hold advanced technical degrees. These recommendations, expressed as the “sense” of Congress, were not binding. The last part of Section 214 did include a binding directive requiring the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, to conduct a study of DoD’s technology base. The study was required to cover three specific areas related to congressional concerns: the minimum requirements for maintaining a technology base that would enable the military to maintain its superiority in air and space weapon systems and in information technology; the effects of reducing future DoD S&T funding below a real growth rate of 2 percent per year; and appropriate levels of staff with advanced degrees and the optimal ratio of civilian and military staff with advanced degrees. Congressional Concerns Congressional concerns arose during the 1990s in response to reductions in DoD’s S&T program, particularly the substantial reductions in the Air Force S&T program and in the number of Air Force S&T personnel. From 1989 to 1999, the Air Force S&T budget declined almost 55 percent in real terms compared to a decline in the total DoD budget of about 27 percent (Gessel, 2000). The Air Force S&T program, which had been almost as large as the Army and Navy S&T programs combined, was reduced to the smallest of the three (Tuohy, 1999). From 1996 to 2000, the overall number of DoD and Air Force personnel declined as part of the post-Cold War military drawdown. The percentage reductions in DoD as a whole and in the Air Force were almost identical in terms of overall personnel. The percentage reduction in Air Force S&T personnel at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), however, was almost twice that of the overall Air Force reduction (Gessel, 2000).

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Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program Since passage of Section 214 in 1998, congressional concerns have been raised repeatedly. In Section 212 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 (P.L. 106–65), Congress expressed its sense that the Secretary of Defense had failed to comply with the funding objective for defense S&T, especially for Air Force S&T. Senate and House of Representatives reports accompanying the Floyd D.Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (P.L. 106–398) (S.R. 106–292, H.R. 106–616) expressed Congress’s continuing concerns about the Air Force S&T investment. To follow up on those concerns, Section 252 of the FY01 act required the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct strategic planning for Air Force S&T and report back to Congress. In December 2000, members of Congress sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force asking him to explain his long-term S&T plans (Inside the Air Force, 2001). STATEMENT OF TASK In November 1999, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology (DUSD (S&T)) asked the NRC to conduct a study on DoD’s technology base. The statement of task for this study was as follows: The NRC will conduct a study that builds upon projections made by the DoD, as included in planning documents and through dialogue with DoD principals, to define and project an “adequate technology base” in the areas of air and space systems, and in the supporting information technology, in the 2010 to 2020 timeframe, determines in a qualitative sense the level of investment required to attain/maintain the technology base defined above (i.e., will current S&T budgetary projections be sufficient to attain/maintain this base), and examines the academic degree requirements and numbers of members of the services required to maintain adequate in-house research in areas where industry does not provide support, and management oversight expertise in areas of research where industry is performing sufficient research. STUDY APPROACH It was immediately apparent that the Committee on Review of the U.S. Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program could not, with the resources available, do a thorough, detailed review of the Air Force S&T program or model and project the supporting S&T workforce requirements with any real precision. In discussions with the sponsor’s representative during the first committee meeting, an agreement was reached that the committee would respond to the statement of task as allowed by the available resources. As a result, the committee addressed the program’s directions from an overall perspective, focusing on the level of investment in S&T, which was the primary concern of the Congress, and providing its expert opinion on actions DoD and the Air Force can take to deal with problems related to the quality and quantity of the S&T workforce. The committee believes that in asking the committee to determine “in a qualitative sense the level of investment required,” the study’s sponsor recognized the inherent difficulty in recommending any hard, quantitative investment and therefore wanted the committee to use its best judgment in recommending the appropriate level of investment in S&T to meet recognized requirements. Based on committee members’ knowledge gained from their extensive experience with DoD and Air Force S&T and on the information they reviewed during the study, the conclusions and recommendations presented in this report reflect the committee’s qualitative rationale and collective judgment. The committee recognized that the term “science and technology” has different meanings to different agencies and in different contexts. For this study, the committee defined defense S&T as the basic research, applied research, and advanced development programs included in the oversight and management responsibilities of the DUSD (S&T). DoD refers to these programs as 6.1 (basic research), 6.2 (applied research), and 6.3 (advanced development) programs, respectively. (The numbering is derived from the first two digits of the corresponding DoD budget categories.) Information provided to the committee covered only DoD’s “unclassified,” or publicly acknowledged, S&T programs. The committee was not given direct access to information about “classified,” or covert, S&T programs. However, some committee members who had insight into classified programs through their professional experience and affiliations were able (without introducing classified information) to ensure that the committee’s conclusions and recommendations made sense in the broad context of public and covert programs. Committee members included recognized experts in the following areas: air, space, and information systems; personnel; resources; and defense S&T. Concise committee member biographies are provided in Appendix B.

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Review of the U.S. Department of Defence Air, Space, and Supporting Information Systems Science and Technology Program As directed by the statement of task, the committee turned to DoD as the primary source of data and information for the study. Beginning in late 1999, the committee also received information, in oral and written form, from several guest speakers, including congressional staff members, the DUSD (S&T), her staff, and members of the military services and defense research agencies. Guest speakers who met with the committee are listed in Appendix C. The committee also obtained information from numerous publications, including some non-DoD documents. CONTENT OF THIS REPORT Chapter 2 presents historical data concerning defense S&T funding and highlights the trends that aroused congressional concerns. Chapter 2 also includes a discussion of the changing utility of defense investments in S&T and offers recommendations for future investment strategies. Chapters 3 through 5 focus on the specific areas with which this study was concerned: air and space systems; information systems; and the S&T workforce. Finally, Chapter 6 presents the committee’s overarching conclusions and recommendations. Appendixes provide supplementary information as described in the report. REFERENCES Gessel, M. 2000. Congressional Perspectives, presentation by Michael Gessel, executive assistant to Congressman Tony Hall, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, Holiday Inn Georgetown, Washington, D.C., January 24, 2000. Inside the Air Force. 2001. Lawmakers demand answers on the future of Air Force S&T programs. Vol. 12, Issue 1, January 5, pp. 2–3. Inside Washington Publishers, Washington, D.C. Tuohy, R. 1999. Review of Department of Defense Air and Space Science and Technology Program, presentation by Robert Tuohy, director, DoD Science and Technology Plans and Programs, to the Committee on Review of the Department of Defense Air and Space Systems Science and Technology Program, Wyndham Bristol Hotel, Washington, D.C., December 16, 1999.