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FYI Number 130: October 18, 2001

DOD Report Calls for 3% Investment in S&T

Every four years the Department of Defense issues a planning document to guide changes in program direction. This document, known as the "Quadrennial Defense Review Report," was issued on September 30. The QDR, as it is known, was a much anticipated document. It has been eclipsed by the September attacks, and has not attracted much attention since its release.

This QDR is 71 pages long, and was written by senior civilian and military leaders in the Defense Department, in consultation with President Bush. In the foreword, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld states that "a central objective of the review was to shift the basis of defense planning from a 'threat-based' model that has dominated thinking in the past to a 'capabilities-based' model for the future." He continues, " . . . it requires the transformation of U.S. forces, capabilities, and institutions to extend America's asymmetric advantages well into the future." The development of "transformational capabilities" has three main parts, one of which is exploiting research and development. About this, the QDR states:

"A robust research and development effort is imperative to achieving the Department's transformation objectives. DoD must maintain a strong science and technology (S&T) program that supports evolving military needs and ensures technological superiority over potential adversaries. Meeting transformation objectives also will require new information systems. These must be married with technological advances in other key areas, including stealth platforms, unmanned vehicles, and smart submunitions. To provide the basic research for these capabilities, the QDR calls for a significant increase in funding for S&T programs to a level of three percent of DoD spending per year." (Defense S&T consists of the 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 programs.)

The 3% figure has been recommended before. At a June 5 Senate hearing, Edward Aldridge, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, testified that 2.5% to 3.0% of the total DOD budget should be used to fund defense S&T (see FYI #75). Defense Comptroller Dov Zakheim, at a July DOD budget briefing, stated that "our goal is 3 percent." In 1998, a Defense Science Board Task Force issued a report concluding that "the most successful industries invest about 15% of sales in research and development with about 3.5% of sales invested in research (equivalent to the DoD S&T program)" (see FYI #86).

The Bush Administration FY 2002 request for DOD is $343 billion. Of this, 2.7% was allocated to S&T.

Applying the QDR and Aldridge S&T recommendations of 3% to the $343 billion DOD request yields $10.29 billion. It is not known how much money House and Senate appropriators wll allocate to defense S&T, as those bills are being drafted. Last year's defense S&T budget was $9.0 billion.

Finally, the Quadrennial Defense Review Report made other references to S&T. It stated:

"During the Cold War, U.S. government programs were a primary impetus for research into new technologies, particularly in areas such as computers and materials. Today and well into the foreseeable future, however, DoD will rely on the private sector to provide much of the leadership in developing new technologies. Thus, the Department has embarked on an effort (a) to turn to private enterprise for new ways to move ideas from the laboratory to the operating forces, (b) to tap the results of innovations developed in the private sector, and (c) to blend government and private research where appropriate. This 'quiet revolution' will take advantage of science and technology and continue to provide U.S. forces with technological superiority."

"In parallel with a new emphasis on research and development, DoD must give increased priority to maintaining a robust test and evaluation program, which will require test centers and ranges. While transformation offers U.S. forces the promise of revolutionary capabilities, the products of this transformation must be tested thoroughly before they are deployed. The need for testing - and particularly for testing capabilities conducted over very long distances - requires the Department to maintain and modernize highly instrumented ranges and to manage the challenges of range encroachment. A robust test and evaluation program will maximize the return on future procurement expenditures, while strengthening the public's confidence in defense acquisitions."

Elsewhere, the QDR states:

"DOD's civilian workforce also must be transformed to meet the challenges of the future. An increasing number of civilian personnel are nearing retirement age. In addition, as a result of downsizing in recent years, DoD has not sufficiently emphasized efforts to bring talented young civilian personnel into the Department to develop them to fill leadership positions. This has been particularly true with respect to young people with the skills needed to address emerging science and technology needs."

The Quadrennial Defense Review Report may be accessed here.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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