Maritime Systems Technology and the Technology Reinvestment Project

In March of 1993, President Clinton announced a new set of technology initiatives to integrate defense and commercial industrial bases in the post-Cold War era. The TRP was to be the primary vehicle for promoting dual-use technologies to pursue this goal. TRP is overseen by the Department of Defense's ARPA, although most of the contract awards are administered by other government agencies, both within and outside the Department of Defense. TRP awards were to be made on a competitive basis and were to target a set of technology areas that would change each year. In the first competition, TRP focus areas included shipbuilding, and of the 212 awards totaling $470 million, two (representing a total of $23.7 million) were made to shipbuilding.

The MARITECH program, begun in 1993, is structured much like TRP but is aimed exclusively at shipbuilding. MARITECH is funded separately from the main TRP program. The program has as an independent focus area with its own line item in the federal budget. MARITECH funding was $30 million in fiscal year 1994 and $40 million in 1995; the administration has called for $50 million per year for fiscal years 1996 to 1998.

MARITECH and TRP projects are innovative public-private partnerships. They have several critical characteristics:

  • They fund technology applications and demonstrations that are expected to find commercial uses within two to five years after completion. Development of new technology applications and transfer of foreign know-how to U.S. yards are both encouraged.
  • They are based on government-industry collaboration, and at least one-half of a project's resources must come from the private-sector partner. There is duplication of effort (up to five teams in the overlapping area of 40,000-DWT tanker design), and the immediate effort is to help individual teams, not the overall shipbuilding industry.
  • Funding is awarded based on an open competition that is outside the FAR process and can use new government agreements that allow flexibility in "contracting" to reduce the complexity of the program. This strategy also allows key information developed to remain proprietary.
  • They require that proposal teams be vertical alliances of shipbuilders and other interested industrial partners.

As of March 1995, the TRP and MARITECH programs together have awarded $49.5 million in funds for 22 separate projects that are applicable to shipbuilding. Money was awarded to the teams—which usually included one U.S. shipyard—that were "most effective in identifying a real market need, an innovative design concept to service that market, and a competitive approach for the detailed design and construction process that could be implemented in the near

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