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Introduction

The report begins with a description of the circumstances that led to this study and the statement of task. This description is followed by an explanation of how the committee carried out its task.

BACKGROUND

The Department of Defense (DoD) develops and applies superior technology to provide affordable, decisive military capability and to enhance the economic security of the United States (AS&TMP, 1994). The corresponding Army strategy is to provide affordable and timely technology, training, and support that meets the needs of soldiers so they can achieve swift, decisive, low-casualty victories in a wide spectrum of conflicts (AS&TMP, 1994).

The Army has a multibillion dollar network of research, development, test, and evaluation facilities at approximately 100 sites worldwide. Using these facilities and a network of other government and private science and technology capabilities, the Army intends to conduct “world-class” research and pursue advances in technology, thereby maintaining superiority in land warfare (Milton, 1995). The Army will foster a science and technology system that employs the best practices from any source to ensure, among other things, continuous improvements in quality, reduced costs, and managed risks (AS&TMP, 1994).

The U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center (RDEC) is a major component of the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command. The Soldier Systems Command, in turn, is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. The mission of the Natick RDEC is to develop products that “maximize the soldier's survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness, and quality



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WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Characteristics for an Army Research, Development, and Engineering Organization 1 Introduction The report begins with a description of the circumstances that led to this study and the statement of task. This description is followed by an explanation of how the committee carried out its task. BACKGROUND The Department of Defense (DoD) develops and applies superior technology to provide affordable, decisive military capability and to enhance the economic security of the United States (AS&TMP, 1994). The corresponding Army strategy is to provide affordable and timely technology, training, and support that meets the needs of soldiers so they can achieve swift, decisive, low-casualty victories in a wide spectrum of conflicts (AS&TMP, 1994). The Army has a multibillion dollar network of research, development, test, and evaluation facilities at approximately 100 sites worldwide. Using these facilities and a network of other government and private science and technology capabilities, the Army intends to conduct “world-class” research and pursue advances in technology, thereby maintaining superiority in land warfare (Milton, 1995). The Army will foster a science and technology system that employs the best practices from any source to ensure, among other things, continuous improvements in quality, reduced costs, and managed risks (AS&TMP, 1994). The U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center (RDEC) is a major component of the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command. The Soldier Systems Command, in turn, is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. The mission of the Natick RDEC is to develop products that “maximize the soldier's survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness, and quality

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WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Characteristics for an Army Research, Development, and Engineering Organization of life” (Business Plan, 1995). The mission also includes integration of several “combat essential elements” (e.g., survivability, sustainability, and mobility) into the “soldier system.” Key elements of this mission are explicit in the five directorates of the Natick RDEC organization (1) survivability, (2) sustainability, (3) mobility, (4) science and technology, and (5) advanced systems concepts. The responsibilities of these directorates include such items as rations, food-service equipment, clothing, shelters, and airdrop systems. (See the beginning of Chapter 3 for a more complete discussion of the mission and responsibilities.) Senior managers at the Natick RDEC share the Army Materiel Command 's vision “to be recognized leaders in acquiring superior technology which will provide a decisive materiel edge and sustain the force” (Business Plan, 1995). The Natick RDEC vision is “to be DoD's world-class research, development, and engineering team that provides global customers with the essentials of life” (Business Plan, 1995). The Natick RDEC must operate effectively and efficiently in an environment that includes constrained defense budgets and reductions in funding and personnel for research and development. In response to these challenges, and in recognition of the Natick RDEC vision, the technical director of the Natick RDEC requested the National Research Council's assistance in shaping the RDEC's future role and direction. This study, which responds to the director's request, is the first phase of a two-phase assessment of the Natick RDEC by a standing committee of the National Research Council known as the Natick Standing Committee. The purpose of this study is to define the characteristics of a world-class research, development, and engineering organization. Those characteristics, and the associated metrics, will then be used during the second phase, which is to assess the Natick RDEC directorates. STATEMENT OF TASK The Natick Standing Committee will carry out the investigations necessary to prepare a report on the characteristics of a world-class research, development, and engineering1 organization. The resulting 1   The original statement of task omitted the word “engineering.” However, because that function is integral to the RDEC mission, it was explicitly included in the committee's interpretation.

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WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Characteristics for an Army Research, Development, and Engineering Organization report will (1) define world-class research, development, and engineering; (2) identify the major components that comprise world-class research, development, and engineering; and (3) identify the measurable qualitative and quantitative characteristics (metrics) that apply to or are appropriate for an Army RDEC to be identified as a world-class research, development, and engineering organization. The characteristics and metrics derived from this definition will be used by the committee during the second-phase assessment of the Natick RDEC. STUDY APPROACH The committee recognizes that the phrase world-class is widely used and means different things to different people. Although providing a general definition of world-class is relatively easy, defining the term for a research and development organization, particularly for an Army RDEC, is more difficult. If world-class is defined with too little regard for the Army context, then the phrase may have little relevance in terms of the Army's paramount goal of winning wars. Therefore, the committee has attempted to develop a definition that takes into account the Army's mission and the RDEC's role in fulfilling that mission. To define world-class objectively, the committee began by surveying various dictionaries for formal definitions, explanations of usage, and origins of the phrase. The committee then conducted a search of the literature dealing with the concept of world-class as applied to different types of organizations. The committee also reviewed aspects of quality management programs (e.g., the Malcolm Baldrige and the President's Quality Award programs). Finally, the committee consulted representatives of industry, academia, and government to ascertain their views regarding world-class research, development, and engineering.2 Although an Army research, development, and engineering (RD&E) organization has unique features3 that distinguish it from academic and industrial research and development centers, the 2   The review of the literature led, in large part, to the selection of representatives from industry and academia; representatives of government were selected based either on their contributions to the literature or their familiarity with DoD research, development, and engineering. 3   For example, as discussed in Chapter 3, the Natick RDEC exists principally to serve the Army. It is funded for the most part by the Army and is managed and operated by Army employees.

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WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Characteristics for an Army Research, Development, and Engineering Organization committee found that entities commonly considered world-class share certain measurable characteristics. ROAD MAP Chapter 2 contains a description of the general concept of world-class. The committee also defines a world-class research and development organization, identifies the major components of the definition, and lists five attributes (also called pillars) that are likely to be shared by world-class organizations. In Chapter 3, the committee recognizes the uniqueness of an Army RD&E organization like the Natick RDEC and establishes a definition of world-class that is appropriate for an Army RD&E organization. The committee also discusses the major components of a world-class organization as they apply to an Army RD&E organization, with emphasis on the pillars. In Chapter 4, working from the five pillars discussed in Chapter 3, the committee develops a set of characteristics and associated metrics that apply to the definition of world-class for an Army RD &E organization. Chapter 5 contains the conclusions and recommendations resulting from this study. REFERENCES AS&TMP. 1994. Army Science and Technology Master Plan. Volume 1. Department of the Army. December. Pp. I-11, I-14. Business Plan. 1995. U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command Business Plan. FY96-01. Volume 2. Appendix F. September. Milton, A. Fenner. 1995. America's Army into the 21st Century. Presentation to the National Research Council Board on Army Science and Technology, Washington, D.C. November 29.