In addition to these stakeholders identified above are such entities as Department of Defense (DOD) leadership, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Congress, and eventually the public.
When the ARL was established in 1993, the decision was made to develop processes by which it could show its relevance specifically to its stakeholders or customers and to the senior Army leadership. The chartering document required that several specific actions be taken with regard to its stakeholders and customers, the rationale being that concentrating most of the basic and applied materiel research in one organization with little to no development activity ran a very real risk of decoupling the newly formed corporate laboratory from the rest of the Army—that is, it ran the risk that ARL could lose its relevance. Thus, the ARL was required to direct at least 50 percent of its program resources toward stakeholder or customer requirements. This 50 percent requirement limited discretionary spending ability and thus provided a balance that did not stifle creativity but at the same time prevented an ivory tower effect from taking hold.
Meeting this requirement was accomplished by having the first ARL director meet with his counterparts in the RDECs; a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was executed in which each acknowledged this relationship. Then, for the directed tasks to be undertaken, ARL line managers were required to execute a Technical Program Annex (TPA) to the original MOU; the TPA was a one-page contract signed by the ARL line manager and one of his counterparts from a customer organization specifying the details of the work to be done. These details included a description of the specific task, the application of the end product by the customer, the amount of funds that the ARL would expend on this task, points of contact in both organizations, and any other information deemed necessary. The TPAs had to sum to at least half of ARL’s base funding. This novel approach was deemed to be very unusual since, in effect, the ARL was asking its customers’ permission to spend its own money. At the end of the year, the customer signatory on each TPA was surveyed to determine the level of satisfaction attained. If there were any complaints, or if the customer’s needs were not satisfied, a senior ARL manager was required to contact the customer about how to correct the situation.
Another piece of this customer-relevance construct was a board of directors (BOD) created by that original charter. The BOD members were the directors of the RDECs that constituted ARL’s customer base. The BOD would meet at least once a year at the ARL to review how well the laboratory had been serving their people. They reviewed the results of the year’s TPA process as well as other processes. They then made comments, observations, suggestions, and recommendations as to the state of their relationship with the ARL and how, if necessary, improvements could be made. This entire process ensured that the laboratory would indeed be closely coupled and very relevant to its customer organizations.
In order to reach the senior leadership, the ARL conceived of a device called the Stakeholders’ Advisory Board (SAB). The ARL director approached the commanding general (four-star) of the AMC, ARL’s parent organization, who agreed to chair a group of senior Army staff. By the group’s charter, the purpose of the SAB was to ensure that the ARL was closely coupled to the Army’s vision of how it would fight in the future, ensure that the ARL would be responsive to and support the Army’s senior leadership as it evolved the doctrine and requirements for the Army of the 21st century, and ensure that the ARL would be sustained as a valuable resource for providing the technological edge to shape the future Army.
The SAB’s membership included the senior members of the Army staff—G1 (personnel administration), G2 (intelligence and security), G3 (operations), G4 (logistics), the deputy under secretary, and other members, all at the three-star or equivalent level. Reaching the soldier in the