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2009-2010 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory
had commented on in the past. The NSD and associated institutes and other initiatives are a prime example of this responsiveness, in their being organized around an end-to-end focus on networking in the large. The reorganization of AC&CSD to address the growing appearance of HPC-like functionality in everyday battlefield computing resources is another example. Further, within the portfolio of research projects there have been positive, significant changes, with projects dropped in areas that ARLTAB suggested were redundant or behind the state of the art (such as nanoelectronic devices), and new projects introduced in areas where there was evidence of significant Army mission-relevant potential (such as embedded HPC, networking problems, and bio-inspired applications). This responsiveness has even shown up in the way that individual divisions, especially BED and ISD, report out their research portfolios at the panel reviews.
There is, however, still room for improvement, especially in articulating both divisional and overall CISD strategic plans and the rationale behind how the research portfolio is adapted to customer pressures while maintaining a solid and relevant basic science capability. There has been improvement, but it is not consistent across divisions, and the research portfolio does not roll up as crisply as it could to the strategic plans. An emphasis on defining the core long-term, relevant scientific problems and an articulating of short versus long-term strategic goals would help to maximize the value of CISD’s research portfolio to the Army. A suggested additional metric is how CISD’s customers perceive the value of their collaborations with CISD, with a related discussion of how expectations and requirements are developed in light of such metrics.
As noted in the previous ARLTAB report, although there seems to be a significant number of collaborations of various sorts, it is often not clear how those collaborations interact with ARL programs (versus simply being funded grants), and what part of the results reported from the collaborations are due to ARL versus external researchers and contractors. This matter is important when trying to judge the overall level of expertise of the ARL staff.
The final criterion asks whether a reasonable part of the ARL portfolio is being applied to breakthrough innovations as opposed to incremental progress. Although it is unclear what is reasonable, it is very clear that potential breakthrough innovations are being fostered in CISD. The Quantum Ghost Imaging work discussed above is one example presented during this review cycle.