ters that Air Force leadership has the technical training and experience to understand and guide their core technologies.
Another result of the constrained work force at government facilities is a reduction in in-house S&T and an increase in contracting out the work while maintaining a management function. In the past, employees in government laboratories were personally involved in R&D, as well as in managing contracted-out work. Their own research provided a valuable background for their informed supervision of contract research. As the level of in-house research falls (e.g., the airborne laser [ABL]), government researchers are losing this valuable experience. If this trend continues, government contract monitors will have no R&D experience, which could undermine the effectiveness of contract management. In addition, top-quality people are not likely accept a job that only promises management of others’ R&D.
Inflexible civil service regulations, hiring practices, and employment conditions, as well as salary realization, have seriously impeded efforts to attract and retain high-quality technical civilian personnel within the Air Force, particularly in a laboratory environment. The resulting degradation of government research talent has caused more government research to be contracted out to industry and university laboratories. The people who remain in government laboratories are spending more of their time as contract monitors than as researchers. Under existing rules and in the present business climate, the government has difficulty maintaining a highly qualified technical work force, except in a few instances where progressive personnel programs have been allowed on a pilot basis.
DoD personnel responsible for funding and overseeing programs face serious and increasingly difficult challenges. With the decline in defense investment in S&T and R&D, policies and programs must be organized and executed effectively. Efficient management and allocation of funding are critical factors in technology advancement, especially when resources are diminishing. The lack of industry experience in the Air Force senior leadership is a significant problem. These leaders must create policy; must manage, craft, and execute programs; and must be “smart buyers” for the Air Force to continue to generate advanced technologies. The committee examined, for example, 70 biographies of senior Air Force civilians involved in funding and overseeing programs. Of the 70, only 10 percent had at least one science or engineering degree and had worked for an aerospace manufacturing firm; 43 percent had a technical education only; 3 percent had industry experience only; and 44 percent had none of these (USAF, 2000b).