CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Defense Research: A Primer on the Department of
Defense’s Research, Development, Test and
Evaluation (RDT&E) Program
Updated July 14, 1999
John D. Moteff
Specialist, Science and Technology Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
This report describes the basic elements and issues of the Department of Defense's (DOD)
Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Program. It defines basic activities
supported by the program, presents budget trends, discusses the management of program, and
describes the infrastructure in which the program is implemented. This report is for staff new
to the area of defense research and for senior staff interested in historical trends. This report
will be updated periodically. For tracking congressional action on the current year’s budget,
the reader is referred to the Issue Brief entitled Defense Research: DOD’s Research,
Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Program, by the same author.
Defense Research: A Primer on the Department of Defense’s
Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E)
Over the last 10 years, the country has spent an average of $36 billion a year on
DOD’s RDT&E program. About 80% of that goes toward the development of
specific military systems or system components. Most of the rest, between $7 billion
and $8 billion, goes toward more fundamental research, development, and
demonstrations of sciences and technologies identified as important to military
capabilities and operations (called the Science and Technology program).
Total RDT&E funding for the last 10 years has remained relatively level in
nominal terms. However, when accounting for inflation, RDT&E funding peaked in
FY1987 and declined fairly steadily until FY1997. The decline primarily occurred in
those activities associated with developing specific weapon systems. Science and
Technology funding during that time, although more volatile from year to year, has
kept up with inflation. Maintaining a healthy Science and Technology program is a
continuing concern of Congress.
The Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology has been given
the responsibility of overseeing the overall RDT&E budget. Reporting to the
Undersecretary is the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), who
is responsible for overseeing the Science and Technology program. Actual program
management responsibility belongs to the Services and a number of Defense Agencies.
Each Service and Defense Agency has its own process for planning its RDT&E and
Science and Technology investment. The DDR&E is responsible for publishing a
DOD-wide Science and Technology Strategy and Plan.
DOD’s RDT&E budget supports work at universities, private firms, non-profits,
federally financed research and development centers, Service-owned research
facilities, and other federally owned research facilities. DOD currently has over 80
Research and Development facilities and 26 Test and Evaluation Centers.
Some issues that Congress has been addressing and likely will continue to deal
with include: maintaining a healthy Science and Technology (S&T) investment;
accelerating the transition of new technology from the laboratory to the field;
downsizing DOD’s RDT&E infrastructure; and integration with the commercial
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Program Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Budget Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Investment Strategy and Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Infrastructure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Other CRS Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Defense Research: A Primer on the Department
of Defense’s Research, Development, Test and
Evaluation (RDT&E) Program
This report describes the basic elements and issues of the Department of
Defense’s (DOD) Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) program.
Over the last 10 years, the country has spent an average of $36 billion a year on
DOD’s RDT&E program. About 80% of that goes toward the development or
demonstration of specific military systems or system components. Most of the rest,
between $7 billion and $8 billion per year, goes toward more fundamental research,
development, and demonstrations in sciences and technologies identified as important
to military capabilities and operations. Because it represents such a large investment
and supports the development of the nation’s high technology weapons systems, and
the technology base upon which those systems rely, Congress has shown considerable
interest in overseeing DOD’s RDT&E program. And, although its share of the
nation’s overall expenditure on science and technology research and development has
diminished over the years, the program still plays an important role in developing
certain key technologies that impact commercial products and the overall economy.
This report discusses the types of activities supported by the RDT&E program, trends
in the program’s budget, program management, and DOD’s RDT&E infrastructure.
DOD’s RDT&E program is one of the major elements of DOD’s total budget.
Other major elements include Personnel, Operations and Maintenance, and
Procurement. For an introduction to DOD’s overall budget, the reader is referred to
CRS Report RL30002, A Defense Budget Primer (see For Additional Reading). The
RDT&E program supports a wide range of activities; from basic research in science
and engineering (e.g. physics, mathematics, materials, electronics) to the full scale
development of specific weapons systems (e.g., the F-22 fighter or the Comanche
The RDT&E budget is accordingly sub-divided into 7 separate activities: basic
research, applied research, advanced technology development, demonstration and
validation, engineering manufacturing development, management support, and
operational systems development. These 7 activities are designated as 6.1 through
6.7. A description of each is given in Figure 1.
Figure 1 RDT&E Activities
6.1 Basic Research: Supports research
that produces new knowledge in a
scientific or technological area of
interest to the military. Areas include
atmospheric and space sciences, ocean
sciences, biological and medical
sciences, chemistry, cognitive and
neural sciences, computer sciences,
sciences, physics, and terrestrial
sciences. For example, basic research
may study the electronic effects of
infrared radiation on a certain class of
6.2 Applied Research: Supports the
exploratory development and initial
maturation of new technologies for
specific military application (or further
developing existing technology for new
military applications). An example
would be studying the feasibility of
integrating infrared detecting materials
and electronics for night vision. Any
hardware development would be
primarily to demonstrate the capability
of the technology to meet a military
need in a simulated or laboratory
6.4 Demonstration and Validation:
Supports the initial development and
demonstration of a product designed
specifically to meet an agreed upon set of
performance standards associated with a
validated operational need. Dem/Val, as it
is often called, supports a formal acquisition
program and typically involves a
competition among different designs.
6.5 Engineering & Manufacturing
Development: Supports the continued
development and refinement of a
specifically designed product that has
demonstrated it can meet performance
requirements and development of the
necessary manufacturing processes needed
to build that product.
6.6 Management Support: Supports the
overhead costs associated with managing
the RDT&E activities and running facilities.
6.7 Operational Systems Development:
Supports the continued improvement and
upgrading of products already in
Development: Supports larger scale
hardware development and integration
and experiments that can demonstrate
capability in more operationally
realistic settings. An example might be
equipping soldiers taking part in a
training operation with a new prototype
night vision goggle.
Funding for 6.1 and 6.2 activities constitute what is called DOD’s Technology
Base program and is often referred to as the “seed corn” of DOD’s technological
capabilities. It is here where new technologies and their potential for military
application are explored and developed (sometimes over long periods of time). A
number of the technologies utilized with such great effect during the Gulf War (e.g.
laser guided bombs, stealth, cruise missiles, night vision) can trace their origins to
Technology Base programs initiated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Advanced technology development (6.3) activities are meant to help technology
make the transition from the laboratory to the field. Among these activities are
Advanced Technology Demonstrations (ATDs, conducted by the Services
individually for relatively unique Service needs) and Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstrations (ACTDs, managed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in
cooperation with one or more of the Services for needs associated with joint
operations). Taken together, these first three activities (6.1-6.3) constitute what is
called DOD’s Science and Technology (S&T) program. The S&T program does
not support development in a formal acquisition program, although as one goes from
6.1 to 6.3, the connection to a specific military operational capability becomes more
important and apparent.
Funding for 6.4, 6.5 and 6.7 activities does support a formal acquisition program
where a specific new product (or product upgrade) is designed and developed to meet
a certified military requirement. The lion’s share of the RDT&E budget goes toward
support of these activities. The acquisition process is discussed later in this report.
RDT&E funding for the last 10 years has remained relatively flat in nominal
terms. However, when accounting for inflation, RDT&E funding peaked in FY1987
and declined fairly steadily until FY1997 (see Figure 2). The steep increase in total
RDT&E funding during the early part of the 1980s was the result of increased support
for the development a specific new weapon systems associated with the Reagan
Administration’s military build-up. The decline in total RDT&E since the last half of
the 1980s is the result of a slowing down in the development of specific new weapon
systems. The decline in spending was initially in concert with other efforts to control
federal budget deficits and then, later, continued in response to the break-up of the
Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Figure 2 Total RDT&E Funding
Beginning in the Carter Administration, funding for Science and Technology
programs also grew, but at a slower rate (see Figure 3). With the end of the Cold
War, Congress became concerned that a drop in near-term weapons development
might adversely impact DOD’s long term ability to develop new weapons systems.
Congress maintained and even increased slightly funding for Science and Technology.
After three years, however, faced with internal budget trade-offs, Congress was
unable to sustain that level of investment (in real terms). If DOD and Congress seek
to increase support for force modernization in the next few years, 6.4 and 6.5 funding
may increase again, relative to the Science and Technology program.
Figure 3 Total RDT&E vs Total S&T
Figure 4 shows the funding trend for each activity within the Science and
Technology program (6.1 through 6.3). Much of the increase in Science and
Technology spending during the Reagan build-up was concentrated in Advanced
Technology Development (6.3). The big step increase in 6.3 funding beginning in
FY1986 was primarily due to the Strategic Defense Initiative, much of the funding for
which was characterized as Advanced Technology Development. Funding for Basic
Research (6.1) and Applied Research (6.2) has been relatively flat, in constant dollars,
over the last 10 years. The university community, however, has expressed some
concern over the slow erosion of Basic Research from its peak in FY1993. Much of
the funding for Basic Research is spent at universities. While universities, as a whole,
receive a decreasing share of their R&D funds from DOD, DOD does provide a
disproportionate share of funding in certain engineering fields (such as electrical
engineering and materials) and mathematics.
Figure 4 S&T Funding by Activity
Organization. The Secretary of Defense, through the Undersecretary of
Defense for Acquisition and Technology (USDAT), has overall responsibility for
managing the total RDT&E budget. Reporting to the Undersecretary is the Director
of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) who oversees the S&T program.
While the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) provides guidance and final
approval of the RDT&E program and budget, it is the Service Departments (Army,
Air Force, and Navy) and Defense Agencies that develop the plans and budgets and
implement the RDT&E program. The Defense Agencies that manage significantly
large RDT&E programs include the Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA,
which only supports 6.1-6.3 activities), the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
(BMDO), and the Office of the Secretary of Defense itself (primarily through the
DDR&E). In addition, the Defense Special Weapons Agency, the Chemical and
Biological Defense Program, and Special Operations Command manage relatively
large RDT&E programs. Finally, there are the Director of Developmental Test and
Evaluation and the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation who receive
RDT&E funds for carrying out their responsibilities for independent and/or joint
testing of new systems. How best to maintain an independent evaluation of new
military systems (independent of the organizations charged with developing those
systems) has been the topic of some debate over the years.
Figure 5 shows the relative share of the total RDT&E budget between Services
and Defense Agencies. Defense Agencies, primarily DARPA and BMDO, but also
OSD, have received an increasing share of the overall RDT&E budget as a result of
their increased spending on S&T. The BMDO also has a significant investment in
Demonstration and Validation (6.4) and Engineering and Manufacturing Development
(6.5) programs. The relative share between the Services partly reflects the relative
costs and complexities of the systems developed. As sophisticated as U.S. Army
tanks have become, a fighter aircraft still costs more.
Figure 5 Total RDT&E by Service (Agencies)
Investment Strategy and Planning. The following discusses S&T strategy and
planning separately from acquisition strategy and planning. While the two processes
do function somewhat independently of each other, they are intimately related. The
S&T program develops the future generation(s) of technology, while acquisition
programs bring that technology into the next generation of equipment. There is a
time lag between technology development and the ability to get that technology into
S&T Planning. In 1988, as part of its FY1989 defense authorizations (Section
823, P.L. 100-456), Congress instructed the USDAT to provide it with an annual plan
for developing the technologies that the Office of the Secretary Defense (OSD) felt
were most critical to ensure the long term qualitative superiority of U.S. weapons
systems. The plan is to include the rationale for selecting those technologies,
milestones associated with developing them, budgets allocated to developing them,
and the potential contribution industry and allies could make to their development.
Prior to this, there was no DOD-wide S&T strategy or plan to guide an integrated
approach to technology development among the Services or to provide Congress with
information useful for its oversight function. The first such plan was submitted in
1989. The process for generating the plan and the “look” of the plan has evolved
considerably since then. Figure 6 shows the current process.
Figure 6. S&T Planning Process
The S&T investment strategy and planning process occurs at two levels and in
two directions. At one level, each Service has its own planning and review process
to ensure that its S&T program supports the current and long-term needs of its own
war fighting community. At a higher level, the DDR&E is responsible for ensuring
that the combined S&T programs compliment each other, serve the joint-war fighting
capabilities identified by Joint Chiefs of Staff and the area commanders-in-chiefs (as
stated in Joint Vision 2010 in the figure below) and address the National Security
Science and Technology Strategy generated by the National Science and Technology
Council (also shown in figure below). The DDR&E is also responsible for ensuring
that redundancies and deficiencies in the individual S&T programs of the Services and
agencies are addressed. While war fighting needs are generally defined by the war
fighting community and the S&T community seeks to develop technologies to meet
those needs (top-down), the S&T community also provides the war fighter with new
opportunities as new technologies are conceived and matured (bottom-up).
Inter-Service and Agency coordination is facilitated by the Defense Science and
Technology Reliance project. The Army and Air Force formed Reliance in 1990,
primarily in response to the S&T planning process implemented in 1989. It expanded
to include the Navy, and now includes DARPA, BMDO, the Deputy DDR&E and the
Defense Special Weapons Agency. Reliance is an inter-service/agency forum where
agreements on joint planning, collocation of in-house R&D, and lead-service/agency
assignments are made. Reliance focuses primarily on those areas of common interest
to more than one Service (e.g. aviation, electronics).
Reliance is responsible for developing the three plans listed in the figure above
(the Basic Research Plan, the Defense Technology Area Plans and the Joint War
fighting Science and Technology Plan). These plans lay out basic roadmaps for
achieving certain military capabilities.
To achieve these levels of capability in the time required, specific Defense
Technology Objectives (DTOs) or, in the case of Basic Research, Strategic
Research Objectives (SROs) are identified. Each DTO (SRO) identifies a specific
level of technological advancement or gain in knowledge that will be made, including
estimated dates, funding levels, the RDT&E Program Elements (P.E.s) which will
support that funding, and an explanation of how this effort will impact the war
fighter’s needs. Together over 300 DTOs are identified and account for about 50%
of DOD’s total 6.2 and 6.3 funding. SROs account for about 67% of DOD’s total
basic research funding.
These plans and technology (strategic research) objectives are reviewed by
Technology Area Review and Assessment (TARA) teams. Program modifications or
recommendations are forwarded to the Defense Science and Technology Advisory
Group (DSTAG) chaired by the DDR&E, who then proposes any changes to the
Program Review Group (PRG) which is part of the Defense Resources Board which
prepares DOD’s budget. Any changes approved by the PRG are sent back to the
Service planners in the form of Program Decision Memoranda.
Acquisition Planning. The Deputy Secretary of Defense with the assistance of
the Defense Resources Board, decides whether to acquire a new military system. The
decision is based on military strategy, the mission capabilities needed to carry out that
strategy, the equipment needed to achieve those capabilities and the affordability of
developing and operating that equipment. Once a new acquisition program is begun,
6.4, 6.5 and 6.7 RDT&E funding supports certain phases of that program. A profile
of the acquisition process that is supported by the RDT&E budget is shown in Figure
7. It consists of Phases, separated by Milestone Decisions. These decisions are made
by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), chaired by the USDAT. Work done
during the Phases are managed by the Services or Agencies.
Figure 7. Acquisition Process
Program Definition & Risk Reduction
Engineering & Manufacturing Development
Production, Deployment, Operational
Before an acquisition program can begin, an operational component within one
of the Services (e.g. the Air Force Air Combat Command) must identify a broadly
stated mission need that cannot be satisfied by changes in tactics, doctrine, etc. If the
materiel solution to this need is expensive enough (above a certain threshold), the
Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must
review and approve it. At that point the USDAT reviews the JROC request and
chooses one or more concepts for further study (Milestone 0). Phase 0 (Concept
Evaluation) involves short-term studies evaluating the feasibility of competing
concepts. At the end of Phase 0, the DAB assesses whether a new acquisition
program is warranted and, if so, approves (Milestone I) a baseline acquisition strategy
(which includes budgets, test and evaluation master plans, risk assessments and
mitigation efforts, etc.). A Milestone approval also agrees on what needs to be
demonstrated in the next phase of the program (exit criteria).
At this point, if the Deputy Secretary of Defense approves, a new program is
begun. Phase I (Program Definition and Risk Reduction) will further develop one or
more of the concepts studied in the previous phase, assessing advantages and
disadvantages, and demonstrating prototype equipment if necessary to reduce risks
(uncertainties). The acquisition strategy becomes more clearly defined as does the
specific system requirements. When the exit criterion for Phase I has been met, the
DAB decides whether to continue with one of the concepts (Milestone II). Phase II
(Engineering and Manufacturing Development) translates the most promising concept
into a stable, operational, affordable, and producible design. Also, during this time
the manufacturing and production processes are validated. Once a prototype of the
design demonstrates it can meet the requirements, low rate initial production is
authorized by the DAB. Low rate initial production provides operational components
for operational testing and to establish the initial production capability. At Milestone
III, the DAB approves Phase III (Production, Deployment, and Operational Support).
At this point RDT&E funds decline and Procurement funds take over.
DOD’s RDT&E program supports work at universities, research institutes,
federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), private firms and
consortia, and at Service RDT&E facilities. Funds flow in different proportions to
different entities depending on the type of activity being funded. A large part of
DOD’s Basic Research program (almost 60%) goes to universities. About 25% goes
to DOD’s own R&D facilities. Most of the 6.2 and 6.3 work is performed in industry
(almost 50%) and at DOD’s own facilities (30%). Just about all of the 6.4, 6.5 and
6.7 funding goes to private firms.
DOD’s RDT&E infrastructure is divided into two groups: research and
development laboratories and test and evaluation centers. Laboratories are DOD
activities (cost centers) that perform one or more of the following activities: science
and technology, engineering development, systems engineering, and engineering
support of deployed materiel. There are over 80 DOD R&D laboratory facilities (e.g
Naval Research Laboratory). Test and Evaluation Centers are facilities and the
surrounding area (i.e. sea, air, ground, space) that are government-owned or
controlled, and which are used to collect T&E data and deliver T&E products (e.g.
reports). There are 26 T&E Centers (e.g. the Army’s White Sands Missile Range).
Each of the Services supports its own R&D laboratories and T&E centers. Each
manages them in its own way. It should be noted that DARPA and BMDO do not
have any R&D laboratories of their own. BMDO does operate the Joint National
FFRDC’s are not-for-profit organizations which are financed on a sole-source
basis, exclusively or substantially by a federal agency, to perform specific research and
development that the agency cannot do itself or contract from other organizations.
The federal government supports a total of 42 FFRDCs. Each is administered, by
contract, by an industrial firm, university, or other non-profit institution. DOD
supports 12 FFRDCs (at one point DOD supported 39). An example is the Lincoln
Laboratory, managed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and begun in
World War II to develop radar. About 3% of DOD’s total RDT&E budget goes to
As mentioned earlier, much of DOD’s 6.1 research is performed by grant or
contract at universities. Much of this is single-investigator research. However, 6.1
funding also goes to support centers of excellence and other “centers” at universities
that take a multi-disciplinary team approach.
Besides providing direct funding to private firms for various research and
development activities, DOD also provides indirect support for private firms’
independent research and development (IR&D). Based on negotiations between
the firm and DOD, DOD will allow firms to count as an expense on its DOD contracts
some share of the research and development the firm does with its own funds (and for
its own purposes). These cost allowances have, in the past, amounted to $2 billion
to $3 billion per year. Congress removed the limits on how much companies could
be reimbursed in the early 1990s as part of Congressional efforts to continue
supporting military R&D during the transition to a post-Cold War environment.
Issues that Congress has confronted and may continue to confront, relating to
DOD’s RDT&E budget include:
Maintaining a Healthy Science and Technology Investment: The Science
and Technology program is perceived as imperative to maintaining DOD’s
technological edge over potential adversaries. Investments made here bear fruit later
in the form of more sophisticated equipment and capabilities. However, because
knowledge and information is the primary product at this stage in development
(especially for 6.1 and 6.2 activities), a specific return on investment in the form of
hardware or software is not always immediate. In fact, it is not always clear,
beforehand, whether a new technology will ever prove useful. As a result, there is
always concern within the S&T community that pressures for nearer-term
developments or issues will crowd out the longer term investment associated with
Science and Technology projects. Over the last 10 years, DOD’s S&T investment has
varied widely. But, since FY1993, when it peaked in real terms, it has steadily
There is no clear objective way to determine how much S&T funding is
appropriate to maintain a healthy technology base and to maintain DOD’s
technological advantage. The FY1999 defense authorization bill (P.L. 105-261, Sec.
214) expressed a sense of Congress that S&T funding should increase 2% above
inflation each year through FY2006. The bill (same section) also called for a report
by the National Research Council to study what level of S&T investment was
appropriate and what the impacts might be of not maintaining that level of funding.
As of the writing of this report, that study has not been initiated. In May 1998, the
Defense Science Board studied this issue by looking at how industry determines how
much to spend on research and development. The Board concluded that industry did
not use a formal process for determining what to spend, but, instead, used a general
rule of a certain percentage of sales. According to the study, technologically dynamic
industries invested up to 3.5% of sales in research (15% of sales in research and
development). Using this rule and equating DOD’s total outlays to sales, the Board
determined that an investment in FY1999 of about $8 billion would be appropriate.
Another issue is the level of basic research supported by the S&T program.
Between FY1993 and FY1998, investment in basic research had slowly eroded in
constant dollars. Much of DOD’s basic research is invested in universities. DOD
basic research investment in universities represents a relatively small share of
universities’ outside funding, but in certain areas, such as materials and electronics
engineering and mathematics, DOD’s investment is a significant source of funds.
Reductions in 6.1 funding generate concern within the university community.
Accelerating the Transition of New Technology: The pace at which new
technology moves from the laboratory to a fielded system has always been of concern,
although the urgency to do so may have subsided with the end of the Cold War.
Scaling technology up in size and integrating it with other technologies can present
problems not identified in the laboratory. Trying to solve these “bugs” in an
acquisition program can delay the program and/or greatly increase the costs of the
program. Therefore, over the years more emphasis has been placed on technology
demonstrations as a way to solve these problems before beginning an acquisition
program. In the last few years, technology demonstrations have also been proposed
as a way to quickly get new technologies into the field, short of a formal acquisition
program. While agreeing on the need for such demonstrations, Congress has been
cautious in support (especially of ACTDs). Even so, technology demonstrations have
increased as a share of the S&T program.
Downsizing Infrastructure: DOD’s downsizing since the end of the Cold War
focused initially on reducing force levels and reducing or delaying the development
of new weapons systems. The next phase of downsizing was directed at trying to
reduce infrastructure across the board. The Base Realignment and Closure
(BRAC) process has been the instrument by which DOD and Congress have agreed
to close bases and other DOD facilities (in what is otherwise a highly politicized
process). Closure and consolidation of defense R&D facilities to the extent they have
occurred, have been a result of the BRAC process. In addition, DOD has been
reducing the RDT&E workforce since FY1992. Reductions are to continue into the
next century, at which point the workforce will have been reduced almost 30% from
FY1992 levels. Additional reductions to the acquisition workforce (which includes
RDT&E personnel) were mandated in the FY1998 Defense Authorizations (P.L. 10585, Section 912).
Although there have been some laboratory consolidations via BRAC, Congress
felt more could be done, especially in regard to cross-servicing (i.e. co-locating the
Services’ RDT&E activity or assigning lead responsibility to a Service in a particular
technology area). Section 277 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1996
(P.L.104-106) required DOD to develop a five-year plan, to be implemented between
FY2001 and FY2005, that would consolidate and restructure its laboratories and
T&E centers further (as much as is practical and possible). The process by which
DOD intended to draw up this plan was called Vision 21. Vision 21 had made some
progress in laying the groundwork for making further consolidations, including the
design of a cost accounting system that would allow the cost of RDT&E to be
compared across Services. However, Vision 21 efforts were later consumed by the
Quadrennial Defense Review process. Draft legislation related specifically to
laboratory and test center consolidation was dropped in favor of a general request for
two more BRAC rounds relating to DOD’s entire infrastructure. Congress has not
been receptive to any more BRAC rounds in this larger context. Congress, however,
continues to encourage the Services to find ways to improve efficiencies and to find
ways to account for costs that will allow comparison across Services (P.L. 105-261,
Integration with the Commercial Sector: While DOD’s Science and
Technology program has produced a wide range of sophisticated technologies, in
some technology areas, it has not been able to keep pace with the level of technology
development in the commercial sector. A prime example is microelectronics. While
the semiconductor and integrated circuits were developed with private funds, DOD
(and the space program) provided an early market for the devices and pushed the
subsequent development of those technologies. By the 1970s, however, DOD’s
market share declined significantly and commercial demands pushed new
developments. Soon commercial circuits outperformed circuits made for DOD. At
the urging of Congress, part of the DOD’s articulated S&T strategy has been to
piggy-back on the commercial sector’s technology base efforts where it can. It has
sought to do this primarily by pursuing what it calls dual-use programs. These
programs seek to cooperatively develop technologies of mutual benefit to DOD and
the commercial sector, in a way that will accelerate their use by both.
Dual-use programs differ from core DOD RDT&E programs in that they are
suppose to appeal more to commercially-oriented firms (or even firms that have not
typically worked with DOD in the past), requiring cost-sharing with the private party
(or parties), and contracts are drawn up independent of usual defense contracting
regulations (to make them more palatable to commercially-oriented firms).
Management of dual-use programs have undergone a great deal of evolution since
they were initiated. Currently, each Service manages its own Dual-Use Science and
Technology program with oversight by the DDR&E.
Other CRS Products
CRS Report RL30002, A Defense Budget Primer, by Mary Tyszkiewicz and Stephen
CRS Report 95-738. The difference Between DOD Programs That Develop DualUse Technologies and DOD’s Dual-Use Technology Development
Programs—A Fact Sheet, by John Moteff.
CRS Report 95-489. DOD’s Federally Funded Research and Development Centers
(FFRDCs), by Michael Davey.
CRS Report 95-322. DOD’s Dual-Use Strategy, by John D. Moteff.
CRS Report 95-86. DOD’s Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP): Friend or Foe?
by John D. Moteff
CRS Issue Brief 89056. Cooperative R&D: Federal Efforts to Promote Industrial
Competitiveness, by Wendy Schact. (Updated regularly)
CRS Report 94-100. DOD Support for University-based Research, by Michael
CRS Report 93-1051. DOD’s Independent Research and Development Program:
Changes and Issues, by Michael Davey and Dahlia Stein.