First, it is heartening and reassuring that NAVSEA recognizes the critical challenge of maintaining an adequate number of skilled Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals. NAVSEA correctly reasons that this challenge has implications for its own workforce development, and its commitment to address this challenge as it relates to its own mission is commendable.
The committee recognizes that the program outlined in the draft memorandum is an early attempt to lay out a comprehensive solution for NAVSEA in the context of existing efforts there and in the Navy more broadly. The focus of the proposed activities should be on fulfilling NAVSEA’s needs, drawing on its unique resources. Our review is offered in the spirit of strengthening and enhancing NAVSEA’s potential contributions. The committee’s review is summarized in the following four points:
The committee was unclear in reviewing the memorandum as to what problem NAVSEA was trying to address. The committee assumed that the issue revolved around maintaining a highly qualified and diverse workforce. NAVSEA should clearly lay out its objectives for the proposed program. This would both enable a better understanding of the program and serve as a basis for establishing metrics by which achievement of program objectives can be measured.
The concept of a long-term program with three ongoing phases (plant, nurture, and produce) demonstrates NAVSEA’s understanding that this type of initiative requires both a long-term perspective to achieve sustaining results and a focus on engaging students at different age groups. There is the implication, however, that these phases are distinct and that we must wait until 2015–2018 to produce the desired results. The Committee urges a more dynamic and iterative relationship between the three phases proposed. Further the committee recommends that NAVSEA carefully consider how wide a scope it can adequately address, given the available resources and the amount that would be needed to target different age groups.
The draft memorandum contains a wide range of initiatives, and probably too many to be effectively managed to the desired results. Several initiatives (e.g., NAVLAB) are not described in sufficient detail to evaluate them effectively or their potential for successful implementation. In other instances (e.g., basic research), it is not clear that NAVSEA is best positioned to oversee the effort.
The committee believes that NAVSEA should concentrate its efforts where it can best leverage its existing resources and its broad geographic presence. To this end, NAVSEA would be well served to make a robust competitive scholarship program and an intern and summer work initiative the centerpieces of its program. NAVSEA should focus on programs where it has unique value added. It should not “reinvent the wheel,” but rather do what it does best to meet its needs and consider partnering with other branches, services, federal agencies, or professional societies to enhance currently beneficial programs.