Assessment of Department of Defense Basic Research
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This is a report of work supported by Grant No. N00014-00-G-0230 between the U.S. Navy and the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, Medicine
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COMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE BASIC RESEARCH
LARRY D. WELCH, Chair,
U.S. Air Force (retired), Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, Virginia
C.D. (DAN) MOTE, JR., Vice Chair,
University of Maryland, College Park
ALBERT J. BACIOCCO, JR.,
U.S. Navy (retired), Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
JACK R. BORSTING,
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
JOHN M. DEUTCH,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
CHARLES B. DUKE,
Xerox Innovation Group, Webster, New York
JOHN S. FOSTER, JR.,
Northrop Grumman Space Technology (retired), Redondo Beach, California
MARY L. GOOD,
University of Arkansas, Little Rock
ROBERT J. HERMANN,
Global Technology Partners, Hartford, Connecticut
JAMES C. McGRODDY,
IBM Corporation (retired), Briarcliff Manor, New York
C. BRADLEY MOORE,
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
JAMES G. O’CONNOR,
Pratt & Whitney (retired), Coventry, Connecticut
RICHARD C. POWELL,
University of Arizona, Tucson
FAWWAZ T. ULABY,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
BARBARA A. WILSON,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
JOHNNIE E. WILSON,
U.S. Army (retired); Dimensions International, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia
MICHAEL A. CLARKE, Lead Division Board Director
JAMES C. GARCIA, Study Director
LANITA R. JONES, Program Assistant
DANIEL E.J. TALMAGE, JR., Research Associate
LINDSAY D. MILLARD, Intern
The U.S. Congress mandated that this study be conducted. The mandate is contained in the U.S. Senate report that accompanied the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 and in the U.S. House of Representatives report that accompanied the House-Senate authorization conference committee version of the act. Specifically, the Senate and House reports, respectively, state:
While the Department [of Defense] is increasing its budget request for the Science and Technology Program, the committee remains concerned that the investment in basic research has remained stagnant and is too focused on near-term demands. Therefore, the committee recommends an increase of $50.0 million for basic research. In addition, the committee directs the Director of Defense Research and Engineering to commission a study by the National Academy of Sciences to assess the basic research portfolio of the services and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This assessment should review the basic research portfolio in order to determine if the programs are consistent with the definitions of basic research in DoD regulation. This report is not intended to rate the worthiness of the basic research portfolio, but rather to determine whether the basic research portfolio needs to be realigned to be more consistent with the goals of traditional fundamental research activities.1
Senate Armed Services Committee, FY04 National Defense Authorization Act, 108th Cong., 2003, S. Rep. 108-46, Title II, Subtitle A. Available online at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_reports&docid=f:sr046.108.pdf. Last accessed on November 16, 2004.
The conferees further note their concerns about funding levels and technical content of the basic research activities of the defense science and technology program. The Department’s investment in basic research provides the foundation upon which our modern military is built. It is critical the basic research investment remain strong, stable, and focused on the fundamental search for new knowledge. Therefore, the conferees direct the National Academies of Science to evaluate the DOD basic research portfolio. The evaluation shall utilize the official DOD definition of basic research to determine whether the basic research portfolio is consistent with the definition provided in DOD regulation. The conferees expect to work closely with the National Academies of Science and the Secretary to build the terms of reference for this evaluation. The evaluation should be made available to the congressional defense committees prior to the fiscal year 2006 budget request.2
The Department of Defense (DOD) awarded National Research Council (NRC) the study grant with an effective starting date of March 2004.
BACKGROUND AND SCOPE OF STUDY
The Department of Defense currently defines basic research as follows:3
Basic research is systematic study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind. It includes all scientific study and experimentation directed toward increasing fundamental knowledge and understanding in those fields of the physical, engineering, environmental, and life sciences related to longterm national security needs. It is farsighted high payoff research that provides the basis for technological progress. Basic research may lead to: (a) subsequent applied research and advanced technology developments in Defense-related technologies, and (b) new and improved military functional capabilities in areas such as communications, detection, tracking, surveillance, propulsion, mobility, guidance and control, navigation, energy conversion, materials and structures, and personnel support. Program elements in this category involve pre-Milestone A efforts.
House Armed Services Committee, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, 108th Cong., 2003, H.R. Rep. 108-354, Title II, Subtitle D. Available online at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_reports&docid=f:hr354.108.pdf. Last accessed on November 16, 2004.
Department of Defense, Financial Management Regulation, DOD 7000.14-R, Vol. 2B, Ch. 5, June 2004. Available online at http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/budget_activities.pdf. Last accessed on November 16, 2004.
The goal of DOD basic research support is to encourage advances in fields that are likely to contribute to national defense, and in doing so, to foster a competitive technology base for the U.S. military.
In order to maintain this competitive technology base, the DOD continues to fund basic research. However, over the past 6 years, it has come to the attention of the congressional committees on armed services that basic research funded by the DOD may be changing. Several organizations, including university research departments and defense laboratories, have described areas of concern. They include the following:
Some research conducted using funds designated specifically for basic research is not, under the DOD’s definition, considered basic research;
Reporting requirements on DOD grants and contracts have become cumbersome and constraining to basic researchers; and
Basic research funds are handled differently among the Services, which makes the funds, in some cases, difficult to track and monitor.
These concerns prompted the armed services committees to request that the National Academies perform a study regarding the nature of basic research currently being funded by the Department of Defense. The task includes assessing the DOD’s basic research portfolio, including that managed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the three military departments, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to determine if the programs in that portfolio are consistent with the definitions of basic research contained in DOD regulations and consistent with the characteristics associated with fundamental research activities. Specifically, the National Academies’ statement of task is shown in Box P-1.
STUDY APPROACH AND CONSTRAINTS
The committee (see Appendix A for biographical sketches of members) approached the study in two basic steps, which corresponded to its first two meetings. The committee devoted its first meeting, on May 5-6, 2004, to understanding the DOD definitions for basic and applied research and the characteristics associated with fundamental research and to gathering data and information that would provide insight into the study issue and background from representatives of the research community. During this meeting, the committee received presentations by personnel from the DOD, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE) and from a former member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services staff. Representatives of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) spoke. The associate provost from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and vice
Statement of Task
In accordance with Senate Report 108-46, Title II, Subtitle A, and House Report 108-354, Title II, Subtitle D, the National Academies will conduct a study to assess the basic research portfolio of the Department of Defense (DoD), including that managed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the three military departments, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to determine if the programs in that portfolio are consistent with the definitions of basic research contained in DoD regulations and consistent with the characteristics associated with fundamental research activities. To conduct the study, the National Academies will accomplish the following tasks:
provosts for research from the University of Southern California (USC) and Howard University made presentations. Speakers from Harvard University and George Mason University discussed how research fits into innovation. The list of guest speakers and titles of their presentations at Meeting 1 is provided in Appendix B.
The committee’s second meeting, held on May 26-27, 2004, was devoted to reviewing the DOD’s basic research program. It included presentations (see Appendix B) by representatives from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, DARPA, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Army speakers included representatives of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT); the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) (including the Army Research Office [ARO]); the Army Research Institute (ARI); the Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC); the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC); and the Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM). The committee received presentations from Navy representatives of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the Naval warfare centers. Representatives of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) made presentations. The director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office represented DARPA. The DOD chemical and biological defense program was discussed by a DTRA representative. An OSD representative discussed the Department of Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR).
The committee also conducted several site visits. Committee members visited DARPA, the three main Service laboratories, and the Navy and Air Force offices responsible for managing their respective Service’s basic research program. During each visit, committee members met with key organization leadership personnel in addition to one or more groups of researchers and/or research managers. Discussion topics included the DOD definition of basic research; the perceptions of leadership, researchers, and managers about how well their research fits this definition and about characteristics associated with basic research; trends; concerns; and suggested improvements. Appendix C lists the DOD organizations visited.
Committee members also visited and/or interviewed individuals and groups at the universities shown in Appendix C. Each visit included a meeting with the key person responsible for research at the university (usually a vice president or vice provost for research), as well as one or more groups of DOD-sponsored researchers. In addition to the same topics discussed during the DOD site visits, the discussions at the universities addressed the importance of DOD research funding to the university research enterprise (e.g., faculty development and support, the ability to train graduate students, and the impact on the research agenda of individual researchers and the institution). These same topics were discussed during interviews of university research leaders who were not visited in person.
In selecting the universities that it would invite to participate in its meetings, visits, and/or interviews, the committee attempted to include a representative sample of universities receiving DOD research funding. The universities that received DOD basic and applied research funding in fiscal year 2002 are shown in Appendix E. Although it was impossible for the committee to conduct site visits or interviews with research leaders and others at all of these universities or even a major percentage of them, the committee sought to obtain meaningful information regarding the study issue by selecting a sample that received a significant portion of DOD research funding, included research sponsored by all three military Services and DARPA, and was geographically balanced. In all, the committee’s site visits and interviews included discussions with approximately 140 people from 7 DOD research organizations and 14 universities.
Constraints on this study were the normal ones experienced by most such studies—schedule and resources. The primary constraint was the requirement expressed by congressional staff members that the study results be available by the end of 2004.
The committee thanks the many organizations and guest speakers that provided excellent support to the committee. The speakers presented information to the committee that had a direct bearing on the study. From the high quality of the presentations, it was obvious that the speakers and others had spent many hours preparing. From the point of view of the committee, this was time well spent. We hope that the speakers, their organizations, the committee’s Department of Defense sponsor, and ultimately the readers of this report will agree.
Finally, the committee thanks the NRC staff members who supported the study. Primary among them were Mike Clarke, Jim Garcia, LaNita Jones, Daniel Talmage, and intern Lindsay Millard.
Larry D. Welch, Chair
Committee on Department of Defense Basic Research
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Duane Adams, Carnegie Mellon University,
Rita Colwell, University of Maryland,
Anthony J. DeMaria, Coherent-DEOS,
Gerald P. Dinneen, Honeywell, Inc. (retired),
Fernando L. Fernandez, Stevens Institute of Technology,
Ernest Henley, University of Washington,
Kathryn Logan, Georgia Institute of Technology (retired),
John W. Lyons, U.S. Army Research Laboratory (retired),
John B. Mooney, Jr., U.S. Navy (retired),
Theodore Poehler, Johns Hopkins University,
Charles V. Shank, E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
James Siedow, Duke University,
Pace Vandevender, Sandia National Laboratories, and
Charles Zukoski, University of Illinois.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by William G. Agnew (NAE), General Motors Corporation (retired). Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.