Based on the information gathered from all sources (including the workshop) discussed in the foregoing chapters, the committee has developed the following summary of findings regarding the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) manufacturing innovation institutes’ strategic goals contained in the DoD Manufacturing USA Strategy.1 Note that the findings for each goal are listed in no particular priority order.
DoD Strategic Goal 1: Drive impactful advanced manufacturing research and development (R&D).
- While transitions to support DoD requirements have occurred, portions of DoD find the institutes to be insignificant or were unaware of their impact on DoD.
- The institutes’ ability to accelerate technology adoption has not been well articulated or verified across all stakeholder groups.
1 U.S. Department of Defense, 2017, Department of Defense Manufacturing USA Strategy, Version Date September 8, Director DoD Manufacturing Technology Program, OUSD(R&E) Strategic Technology Protection and Exploitation, Washington, DC.
DoD Strategic Goal 2: Encourage the creation of viable and sustainable institute business plans.
- Support for the original vision for the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes remains high among engaged stakeholders.
- Continued core funding at some level is required to meet DoD goals.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes have not currently established themselves sufficiently to function without federal core funding being provided. The experience of similar agencies in other countries suggests that core funding is likely to be critical on an ongoing basis to achieve strategic goals #3 and #5. Beyond core, DoD Manufacturing USA institutes need to find additional sources of funding to remain viable in the long term.
DoD Strategic Goal 3: Maintain an optimal program design to maximize value delivery.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes provide value to DoD, industry, and academia by creating an environment for collaboration.
- In their technology areas, the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes are creating strong ecosystems with a wide diversity of organizations involved.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes perform important functions for their communities, including roadmapping and workforce development, that are not considered R&D.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes play a strong role in standards development.
- Within the set of institutes, current funding and intellectual property (IP) models are diverse and cumbersome.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes are operating as individual organizations and do not appear to function as a network.
- Portions of DoD find the institutes to be an ineffective means for conducting research and do not see the value of the products being delivered by the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes for the funding that has been spent.
- Numerous specific opportunities have been identified in the workshop that would improve core outcomes and have the potential to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the institutes.
- The process of advancing technology readiness levels (TRLs)/manufacturing readiness levels (MRLs) is not clearly understood across the institutes and stakeholders.
DoD Strategic Goal 4: Maximize stakeholder understanding of DoD’s Manufacturing USA institutes.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes need to be more broadly engaged with DoD stakeholders beyond the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
- The long-range objective of continued coinvesting in core activities is the creation of dual-use U.S. supply chains.
- The advantage of using the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes versus other R&D mechanisms is not clear to project sponsors who are currently not engaged with the institutes.
- Major portions of the DoD science and technology (S&T) and the acquisition and sustainment (A&S) communities are unaware of the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes and their offerings.
- DoD needs to engage as a partner (not at arm’s length) to enable the institutes to accomplish their mission.
DoD Strategic Goal 5: Effectively support a capable workforce.
- The DoD Manufacturing USA institutes are exploring a number of approaches to supporting programs in workforce development.
- The education and workforce development program is generally looked upon as being a valuable component of the program; however, the program needs to be assessed to determine best practices and ensure that it supports the DoD goal of developing a capable workforce.
Recommendation. Next Steps Toward Continuation of DoD-Sponsored Institutes. Based on the committee’s finding that the institutes provide value of benefit to DoD goals, the committee recommends that DoD conduct a formal review of each institute to support decisions on renewing, re-competing, or canceling current agreements. The review criteria should be tied to meeting the goals of the DoD strategic plan. The review should also examine whether the institutes’ budgets are appropriate based on the stakeholders’ assessments of the value of each institute offering. Procedures used by other DoD programs, such as DoD’s University Affiliated Research Centers, should be considered for these reviews.
Recommendation. Long-Term Engagement Model. Assuming implementation of the recommended formal review, the study committee developed five business model options for DoD’s long-term engagement with its existing and potential future institutes:
- Option A—Current model with planned reduction in DoD support for core activities based on the projected OSD Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) budget in fiscal year (FY) 2019 to FY2023;
- Option B—Current model with improvements to processes, offerings, and value-based core funding with potential continued funding within final budget constraints;
- Option C—Transition to DoD customer model;
- Option D—Transfer core responsibilities to the National Program Office at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and
- Option E—No core funding of institutes beyond initial investment.
Based on analysis of options presented in Chapter 4, the committee recommends that DoD implement a hybrid business model that combines (1) the Option B model for continuation of core support (within budget constraints) and (2) the Option C business model for expansion of DoD customer-sponsored projects. This combination should be implemented with contractual agreements (including an Other Transaction Authority business interface) that support DoD’s roles both as a continued co-investment partner in core activities and as a customer of R&D and workforce development solutions that meet DoD needs. This recommendation implies a significant addition to the functions of the OSD ManTech office, in conjunction with other DoD organizations, to assist the institutes in connections with DoD customers in the ManTech, S&T, and A&S communities. It also implies a transition period as the emphasis shifts to a primary focus on DoD customer projects, with continuation of DoD support for core activities becoming secondary and covering those most essential. For this recommendation to succeed, it is essential that the institutes learn about DoD needs and develop and market their capabilities relevant to those needs. It is also essential that the relevant DoD stakeholder organizations understand and engage with the institutes as active members of the public–private partnerships, customers, or both.
Recommendation. Improvements to Institute Operations. Implicit in the recommended hybrid engagement model combining Options B and C are improvements to institute operations, drawing on the stakeholder input summarized in Appendixes C and D. The committee recommends that the OSD ManTech office work with the institutes to implement as many of these improvements as possible within budget constraints. In many cases these improvements will reduce time and cost. High priority should be given to the following improvements, listed in no particular priority order:
- Linking to DoD and federal R&D. Better link the manufacturing institutes to DoD and other federal research efforts at R&D agencies, including through
technology development planning and coordination in technology areas being pursued by the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes.
- Improving acquisition and contracting policies. Explore the use of contracting vehicles that can increase flexibility, reduce barriers for subject matter experts and small and medium-size enterprises, and minimize the time from proposal to award.
- Ensuring project relevance to DoD. Develop projects that support DoD needs through advancement of MRLs and TRLs of the technology of interest. Conduct critical technology and manufacturing readiness reviews to support TRL and MRL claims.
- Developing relevant performance metrics. Develop metrics that more accurately reflect the performance of the institutes relative to DoD goals. Conduct critical reviews, possibly by independent third parties, to assess performance of the institute.
- Understanding barriers and engaging the entire supply chain. Some of the technologies being developed by institutes require adoption by full supply chains for implementation at scale. Thus, in addition to improved outreach to small and medium-size enterprises, efforts should be made both to understand the barriers to adoption of these technologies in supply chains and to work with partners to overcome those barriers.2
- Advancing best workforce education practices. DoD Manufacturing USA institutes should be encouraged to collaborate in developing optimal and more joint workforce development efforts, including taking advantage of online and related technologies. DoD Manufacturing USA institutes should be mindful of the need both for applied training in the new technologies and for workers to understand fundamental principles so that the training remains relevant as technology changes.
- Improving cross-institute collaboration and networks. Since companies will need to implement a number of new advanced manufacturing technologies, the network among the institutes needs further participation and collaboration so that the DoD Manufacturing USA institutes’ participating companies have access to technology advances across institutes.
Recommendation. Senior DoD Support for Institute Engagement with DoD Customer Communities. Within the hybrid engagement model combining Options B and C (Recommendation 2 above) is an important expanded role for the OSD ManTech office to assist institutes in engaging customers in the S&T and A&S communities. This role will require leadership support in OSD and the services
2 S. Helper and T. Mahoney, 2017, “Next-Generation Supply Chains,” Mforesight, June, http://mforesight.org/projects-events/supply-chains/.
and agencies. The committee recommends top-level communication from the undersecretaries for research and engineering and A&S to the appropriate service and agency leaders to raise visibility of the institutes and to request points of contact for the OSD ManTech office to work with. For S&T, this senior-level communication should facilitate connections to explore intersections in technology roadmaps between DoD S&T roadmap leaders and the institutes. For the acquisition community, the communication should request focal points for a few specific target programs that might benefit from solutions the institutes can provide, similar to the programs of record that have been successfully identified as transition targets for the Navy ManTech program. For the sustainment community, the communication should facilitate discussions with the institutes regarding depots’ needs for skilled workforce development and technology insertion opportunities.
We want to always be thoughtful about what are the key things that we can do to make sure that these institutes can grow and flourish and grow in their own markets and become part of the fabric of the nation.
—Kristen Baldwin, Deputy Director,
Strategic Technology Protection and Exploitation,
DoD Research & Engineering Enterprise
Keynote Speaker at the Workshop, January 28, 2019