Feds look to R&D partnerships
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Jul 13, 2000
Government and industry will save time and money if they partner in developing
new technologies, according to a panel of government and industry leaders
in space and defense.
"A strong R&D program is the essence of our national security strategy,"
said Jacques Gansler, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology
and logistics. Without industry's involvement and investment, the government
would not be able to get new technology faster and cheaper, he said. "America's
future security depends on our successfully and rapidly developing those
linkages," he said.
Gansler joined Clayton Jones, president of Rockwell-Collins, and Robert
Norwood, director of NASA's Commercial Technology Division, speaking about
industry and government partnerships in research and development at the
Excellence in Government 2000 conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
"We want to stay two steps ahead of any potential adversary," Gansler said.
To achieve a "revolution of military affairs," the Defense Department needs
to shorten development cycles and improve its ability to interoperate with
U.S. allies, he said.
R&D partnerships between federal agencies and academic and industry
scientists have become a preferred way to move new developments into government
quickly and to promote scientists and engineers of the future. Industry
is taking advantage of R&D partnerships to reduce the risk and cost
of developing new technologies with applications in the commercial sector,
But many changes are needed to take advantage of the benefits of nongovernment
involvement in cutting-edge research, Gansler said. Among them:
* The three-year federal budget cycle must be revisited because it inhibits
today's 18-month technology cycle, Gansler said.
* Export controls need to be reviewed to allow collaboration in a global
coalition environment, Jones said.
* DOD must change the way it does business, promoting advanced technologies
in information technology, materials technology and biotechnology that will
directly benefit the warfighter, Gansler said.
* Commercial firms must be rewarded by government for innovation rather
than be subjected to strict accounting and regulatory standards, Gansler
NASA, known for its "faster, better, cheaper" philosophy for developing
space missions, has come a long way in its outside partnerships, Norwood
said. NASA has moved away from technology transfer, which was wasteful and
time-consuming because industry would return to NASA for information about
the technology it was commercializing, he said. Instead, it is working jointly
with industry to meet government requirements and allow the lessons learned
to be applied to commercial products, he said.
There are selected areas where government needs to do its own research,
such as weapons of mass destruction, Gansler said. But most R&D can
be done in the private sector. "We need to distinguish between what government
needs to fund and what government needs to do," he said.