The Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB) assessment considered the following general questions posed by the ARL director:
- Is the scientific quality of the research of comparable technical quality to that executed in leading federal, university, and industrial laboratories both nationally and internationally?
- Does the research program reflect a broad understanding of the underlying science and research conducted elsewhere?
- Does the research employ the appropriate laboratory equipment and numerical models?
- Are the qualifications of the research team compatible with the research challenge?
- Are the facilities and laboratory equipment state of the art?
- Are programs crafted to employ the appropriate mix of theory, computation, and experimentation?
To assist ARL in addressing promising technical approaches, the board will also consider the following questions:
- Are there especially promising projects that, with improved direction or resources, could produce outstanding results that can be transitioned ultimately to the field?
- Are there promising outside-the-box concepts that should be pursued but are not currently in the ARL portfolio?
The ARLTAB also considered the following factors commonly applied to the assessment of scientific and technical work:
PROJECT GOALS AND PLANS
- Are the objectives clearly stated and are tasks well defined to achieve objectives?
- Are milestones defined? Are they appropriate? Do they appear feasible?
- Are obstacles and challenges defined (technical, resources, time)?
- Assuming success, what difference will it make to the science base, to the end user, or in a mission area context?
- Does the project plan identify dependencies (i.e., do successes depend on the success of other activities within the project or on the success of projects developed outside ARL)?
- Does the project represent an area where application of ARL strengths is appropriate?
- What stopping rules, if any, are being or should be applied?
METHODOLOGY AND APPROACH
- Are the methods (e.g., laboratory experiment, modeling/simulation, field test, analysis) appropriate to the problems? Do these methods integrate?
- Are the hypotheses appropriately framed within the literature and theoretical context?
- Is there an alternative approach that facilitates the progress of the project?
- Is there a clearly identified and appropriate process for performing required analyses, prototypes, models, simulations, tests, and so on?
- Is the data collection and analysis methodology appropriate?
- Are conclusions supported by the results?
- Are proposed ideas for further study reasonable?
- Do the trade-offs between risk and potential gain appear reasonable?
- If the project demands technological or technical innovation, is that occurring?
CAPABILITIES AND RESOURCES
- If staff or equipment is not adequate, how might the project be triaged (which technical thrust should be emphasized, which sacrificed?) to best move toward its stated objectives?
- Will the project recruit new talent into ARL?
- Presentations and colloquia.
- Participation in professional activities (society officers, conference committees, journal editors).
- Papers in quality refereed journals and conference proceedings (and their citation index).
- Educational outreach (serving on graduate committees, teaching/lecturing, invited talks, mentoring students).
- Fellowships and awards (external and internal).
- Participation on review panels (Army Research Office, National Science Foundation, Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, etc.).
- Patents and intellectual property and examples of how the patent or intellectual property is used.
- Involvement in building an ARL-wide cross-directorate community.
- Public recognition (e.g., in the press and elsewhere) for ARL research.
- Collaborations (lead, partner, support).