Feds look to R&D partnerships

Government and industry will save time and money if they partner in developing new technologies, according to leaders at defense and space agencies

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,

Jones said.

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

said.

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.

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