Recommendation. Given the Air Force’s increasing reliance on IS&T, its role in enabling revolutionary concepts in military affairs, and the committee’s recommendation to significantly increase the investment in basic research for IS&T, the committee recommends that AFOSR consider identifying IS&T as a major area within AFOSR. In fact, as the investment in that area increases over time, AFOSR should consider organizing a separate directorate for IS&T and related topics. Given the committee’s recommendation regarding human-system interfaces and interactions, it would seem appropriate to also consider alignment of all human-system and human-effects-related research within this separate directorate.
With the recommended increase in funding for IS&T and the corresponding increase in scope of the research investment, AFOSR will be faced with a staffing challenge. This challenge can be viewed as an opportunity to reach out to the IS&T research community to recruit new program managers. The DARPA model for recruiting and rotating program managers has quite successfully made use of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and the more recent Experimental Personnel Hiring Authority. The former has been used to recruit candidates from universities and nonprofit organizations such as federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), while the latter has been used to bring candidates from industry to government for a limited term to participate as program managers in exciting new areas of R&D. These tools have been used at the program manager and higher levels with great success. Aside from attracting the best and brightest from universities, nonprofits, and industry, these tools also rotate program managers out of the agency and back to endeavors of their choice when their term is completed. AFOSR then has an opportunity to both staff the recommended growth in IS&T and maintain the vitality of the area by bringing in new program managers as replacements for those who are rotating out.
Recommendation. AFOSR has an opportunity as well as a challenge to staff the recommended increase in funding for research in IS&T. The committee recommends that AFOSR take advantage of mechanisms such as the Intergovernmental Personnel Act to recruit new program managers and, possibly, directorate directors for some if not all of the expanded investment in IS&T. This approach would facilitate continued vitality in this important and growing area of research.