Science and Technology News

Friday, April 19, 2013

Research, Engineering Team Adjusts to Fiscal Uncertainty

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2013 – Defense Department scientists and researchers will adjust to fiscal uncertainty by scrapping duplicative research and increasing prototyping, a senior Pentagon official told Congress yesterday.

Alan R. Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that DOD plans to consolidate programs and develop new capabilities by keeping design teams on tap during equipment purchase lulls.

“[Scientists and researchers] will be doing prototyping in things like very advanced electronic warfare systems and … cyber capabilities,” Shaffer said. “It’s where we have to address new and emerging capabilities.”

About $45 million allocated for the applied technology program in the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2014 budget request is not a new set of money, Shaffer said. Rather, he told the senators, it derives from a consolidation of programs such as cyber, communications, electronic warfare and materiel.

“I took five or six of my old programs and collapsed them into a single program element to be able to fund good ideas competitively across the department in the cross-cutting areas that everybody has [science and technology] programs in,” he explained.

Shaffer said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall has asked him and his team to reassess late-development prototyping and demonstration.
When considering advanced technology, the real “secret sauce” is design team engineers who will create the new trades and possibilities, he added.

“So we will do some prototyping to make sure that we keep the national intellectual capital viable for when we need the next set of systems,” Shaffer said. “It’s a new way of thinking about how we’re going to get more ‘bang for the buck’ by funding … internally, competitively proposed projects in those certain cross-cutting areas.”

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