National Academies Press: OpenBook

Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering (2019)

Chapter: 2 A Framework for National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering Evaluation

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Suggested Citation:"2 A Framework for National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering Evaluation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
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Suggested Citation:"2 A Framework for National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering Evaluation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
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Suggested Citation:"2 A Framework for National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering Evaluation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
Page 21
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Suggested Citation:"2 A Framework for National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering Evaluation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
Page 22

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PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 19 2 A Framework for National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering Evaluation Recognizing the changing environment in which the National Naval Responsibility (NNR) programs reside, the committee considered how it can best help Office of Naval Research (ONR) leadership with strategic advice intended to position the National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering (NNR-NE) program in accordance with the new Naval R&D Framework’s focus on “aligning, allocating, and accelerating” research and development (R&D) to better meet the technology and innovation needs of the future Navy. The committee took note of the Framework’s emphasis on ensuring that the NNRs’ portfolio allocation priorities are made in an explicit and systematic manner that considers factors such as technology timelines, capacity to create evolutionary versus revolutionary capabilities, and risk potential.10 One factor cited as having especially strong relevance to the NNRs is the importance of ONR carefully determining when it should lead, and when it should “fast-follow.” The Framework points to the need to “lead those areas critical to naval warfighting or where the naval force has a unique requirement or use,” and to “fast-follow and/or leverage expertise in other areas common among service partners or commercial interests.” The NNRs were conceived with the clear intention of ensuring that ONR leads in investing in and sustaining the science and technology (S&T) in areas of critical and enduring importance to naval superiority and that are not likely to be adequately supported by the S&T investments of industry, other military services, or other government agencies. In the case of the NNR-NE, its critical research areas are intended to further naval-critical NE interests and capabilities that could not be expected to be sustained by other ONR research programs or by research programs at other agencies or the private sector in the long term. The Framework’s emphasis on ONR taking the “lead” in such areas is therefore well established as a basis for each NNR’s programming of its R&D portfolio. The Framework’s emphasis on the NNRs also having a “fast-follow” or “leverage” role when making portfolio choices, however, has been an implicit, if not always explicit, part of each NNR’s scope of responsibility. Indeed, when it created a fifth NNR on sea-based aviation in 2011, ONR offered the following taxonomy to define the scope of this NNR’s responsibility.11  Navy-Unique Challenges: Areas related to the unique operating environment or requirements of the Navy that have little leverage from other organizations’ investments and must be addressed by Naval S&T.  Navy-Driven Challenges: Research areas that may attract S&T investments from other organizations but that require additional Navy investments to address specific Navy needs and requirements.  Common Challenges: Research areas that are common to multiple services, in some cases the commercial sector, and where additional S&T is required to continue to address Navy needs and responsibilities. 10 See https://www.navy.mil/strategic/2017-Naval-Strategy.pdf, p. 8. 11 See https://www.onr.navy.mil/-/media/Files/35/NNR-Sea-Based- Aviation.ashx?la=en&hash=E0B8262597CFA7E1AF6923EC4905B06486923333.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 20 This taxonomy distinguishes among those instances in which the NNR should be prepared to take the lead (Navy-unique challenges) and when it should be prepared to leverage its resources (Navy-driven and common challenges) to different degrees. The taxonomy is illustrated further by Figure 2-1, which shows how the NNR-NE portfolio fits within the larger universe of related S&T programs both within and outside ONR. While ONR can formulate programs under its purview, represented by the inner two circles, it must by necessity partner in various ways to engage the rest of the S&T universe of naval engineering programs and related S&T fields. In the case of Navy-unique needs, the potential for partnerships is limited, and therefore the inner circle represents the core of NNR-NE’s scope of responsibility. Examples of naval-unique needs are stealth hull designs, shock- and impact-resistant structures, propulsors that are quiet and can survive high-intensity impact loads from undersea explosions, and platform design tools for integrating complex warfighting systems. While opportunities for leveraging may exist across all of the circles, the NNR’s emphasis on exploiting them will depend in part on the kind of distinctions made in the above taxonomy about whether the challenges are Navy-driven or common among many services and/or commercial sectors. The former may be candidates for formal partnership arrangements while the latter may be better suited to active monitoring and other means of ensuring mutual awareness. FIGURE 2-1 Global context for the NNR-NE program. “LEAD, LEVERAGE, AND MONITOR” EVALUATION FRAMEWORK Because naval engineering is multidisciplinary, each of the circles in Figure 2-1 can be expected to include a large number of S&T disciplines and skill specialties, with an even broader array in the outside circles where S&T is supported by other services, federal agencies, and the private sector. The S&T disciplines, skill specialties, and R&D investments in these many programs, however, are fluid, as are the needs of the future Navy. Accordingly, not only does this fluidity

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 21 imply a recurring need to reassess the activities and investments that comprise the core of the NNR-NE to ensure that they remain relevant to the future Navy’s unique NE needs but also to assess the changing importance of other disciplines and fields to this core. This further implies that NNR-NE has a role in understanding and monitoring the health of the disciplines and skill specialties that are becoming increasingly important to NE, and in seeking opportunities to leverage investments made by external programs that otherwise might not be made. The way the committee chose to think about these multiple functions of the NNR-NE program is to categorize them into the following three responsibilities:  Lead—where NNR-NE assumes lead responsibility for ensuring the vitality, performance, and desired outcomes of the NE field in meeting naval-unique NE interests and capabilities. This responsibility would include, but not be limited to, providing intellectual leadership in particular S&T subjects that are unique and vital to the Navy’s NE needs.  Leverage—where NNR-NE relies on partners within and outside ONR to advance the state of the art to a point where the program can adapt the technical advance to meet NE interests or even contribute to an expansion in the state of the art for application to the NE enterprise. Leveraging activities may range from co-funding S&T activity to program coordination.  Monitor—where NNR-NE maintains “situational awareness” of the emerging state of the art across a broad front. Not a passive task, one can view monitoring as involving the periodic study of emergent areas of technical interest to consider whether they warrant Leverage or Lead investments. By definition, an NNR portfolio—when considered in its entirety—is a “lead” program responsibility. In the case of NNR-NE, it has lead responsibility for sustaining and furthering naval engineering interests and capabilities that are vital to the Navy. Within each of the NNR portfolios, however, one would expect to find leading, leveraging, and monitoring activities. APPLYING THE EVALUATION FRAMEWORK TO THE “THREE PILLARS” The NNR programs have the common purpose of ensuring that ONR meets its responsibilities to maintain the health, currency, and technical superiority of the S&T research enterprise in each program area; a robust pipeline of scientists, engineers, and other technical experts in disciplines critical to the program area; and the needed testing and other infrastructure to support the S&T enterprise. In this report, the committee refers to these purposes as the three “pillars” of the NNR-NE program, constituting:  An integrated, world class S&T research program that reaches from discovery and invention to advanced development outcomes that can consistently meet and anticipate naval needs.  Efforts to sustain the workforce pipeline of human talent for future research and development, as well as for the overall U.S. naval engineering enterprise.  Efforts to ensure that critical infrastructure remains available to the research community and to the overall U.S. naval. This entails the creation of new infrastructure as well as retirement or modification of existing facilities.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 22 The matrix in Table 2-1 shows how the evaluation framework, structured around the three levels of program responsibility (i.e., lead, leverage, monitor), can be used to examine ONR’s role with regard to these three “pillars” of the NNR-NE. In each cell, the committee identifies some specific roles that the program can play to fulfill the three responsibilities for each of the pillars. TABLE 2-1 Example NNR-NE Strategic Responsibilities for Each of the Three Pillars of the Program S&T Content Workforce Development Infrastructure Lead Set research scope, priorities, and performance metrics; fund and manage programs Sponsor/inspire NNR-NE education and talent Ensure quality and availability of critical NNR-NE computational and experimental infrastructure Leverage Become an agile adopter through program partnering across ONR and elsewhere Foster NE perspective in U.S. STEM programs Facilitate access to novel infrastructure capabilities Monitor Engage, follow, and incorporate emerging relevant technologies Track relevant STEM activities, trends, and products Maintain awareness of relevant international infrastructure and trends In the three chapters that follow, the matrix is used to consider how the NNR-NE is fulfilling, and can better fulfill, its responsibilitieis for leading, leveraging, and monitoring to ensure that the future Navy’s NE needs are met. Chapter 3 uses this framework to evaluate the S&T content of the NNR-NE, while Chapters 4 and 5 use the framework to evaluate the workforce pipline and S&T infrastructure, respectively. In each case, the application of the framework is helpful for identifying the strategic needs for each pillar and for considering NNR- NE’s role in meeting needs. Indeed, the framework proved sufficiently robust for this purpose that in Chapter 6, the committee considers how such a framework might be used by the NNR-NE program managers, and perhaps more broadly within ONR, for strategic management of the NNR-NE and its S&T portfolio.

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The U.S. Navy has many unique naval engineering needs that demand a highly capable and robust U.S. naval engineering enterprise. In seeking an independent review of the unclassified elements of its National Naval Responsibilities—Naval Engineering (NNR-NE) program, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) asked for recommendations on ways to ensure the program meets the many naval engineering research, education, and workforce needs that will be critical to the Future Navy.

Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering recommends a number of strategies, including advice that ONR adopt a “lead, leverage, and monitor” framework for the programming, prioritization, and integration of its investments within and across the NNR-NE’s three “pillars” of science and technology (S&T), education and workforce development, and experimental infrastructure.

The report points out that as the technological landscape critical to naval engineering continues to expand at a rapid pace, NNR-NE must make strategic choices about when it should invest directly in research that meets naval-unique S&T needs, and when it should leverage technological advances from other domains.

Likewise, the report points to the importance of the NNR-NE making direct investments to inspire STEM interest among K-12 students and attract undergraduate and graduate students to the field of naval engineering but also to leverage the many STEM programs found elsewhere in the Navy and Department of Defense.

The report stresses the importance of engaging individuals from under-represented groups to expand the naval engineering talent pool and to find creative ways to expedite the recruitment of workers to Navy-critical professions by providing naval engineering graduates with early work opportunities while awaiting security clearances.

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