turn introduces the risk of inefficiency and misdirection. The Army should expedite a return to a state of stability of the technical management at ARL in the near future.
The hiring issue is not confined to senior management. ARL has been highly successful in recent years in recruiting many bright, early-career scientists and engineers, often in newly developing technical areas. These new recruits offer great promise for the future, but they are in need of strong technical leadership. Some technical areas are benefiting from seasoned internal leadership, but in a number of newer areas, senior technical leadership should be recruited from outside ARL, because ARL continually addresses emerging scientific and technical areas. Acknowledging limited flexibility in the Senior Scientific/Professional personnel track and issues of hiring freezes, ARL should consider appointments through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act process.
ARL has released the first volume of the “Research @ ARL” series. This event deserves congratulations. Focused on recent advances in energy and energetics, this volume of technical papers is the first of many planned documents that will be produced across the ARL directorates and that will help stakeholders understand the scope and direction of recent accomplishments by the dedicated and talented staff at ARL. Although addressing this audience through such technical compendia is desirable and praiseworthy, it should not be viewed as sufficient to capture the impacts of ARL’s research. The full impact of research can only be measured after the fact. ARL can benefit from having a historian with sanctioned access as well as requirements for internal reporting, organized to ensure the collection of appropriate data and personal recollections.
The increased attention by ARL to enterprise R&D efforts is commendable. As the technical quality and depth within directorates continue to improve, it is appropriate that ARL continue to increase its focus on broad, multidisciplinary issues that can best be addressed by collaborative work across several directorates and with extramural partnerships that enhance the ARL intramural capability. It is becoming increasingly clear that greater attention should be given to the review of the work done by all participants in these collaborative alliances, both intra- and extramural. If the alliances succeed as intended, then their efforts have to make a profound impact on the content and quality of the ARL portfolio as well as on the accomplishments of its staff. If this is so, management should welcome the validation from external review. ARL should consider establishing an independent review that will allow adequate attention to the work done by all parties in the collaborative alliances. Additionally, it is difficult to find documentation that clarifies the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches to collaborative research and their comparative value to the traditional use of government laboratories by the Air Force and Navy. ARL should consider performing or commissioning retrospective analyses of these extramural collaborative activities, to be targeted at such issues as best practice in management, technical accomplishments, and impacts on the Army and on the conduct of business in the ARL.