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Defense Announces Research Center Initiatives

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 1996 – DoD announced plans to manage more efficiently the work of federally funded research and development centers and university-affiliated research centers.

Paul G. Kaminski, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, told a Pentagon news conference DoD wants to limit the centers to work in areas of core interest to the department.

The 12 federally funded research and development centers have a total budget approaching $1.2 billion. The largest is the Mitre Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, Bedford, Mass., with a budget of $342 million. Other centers include RAND Corp., Santa Monica, Calif.; the Center for Naval Analyses, Alexandria, Va.; and the MITLincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Mass.

The six university-affiliated research centers are at Johns Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Texas, University of Washington, Utah State University and Georgia Tech. They have a fiscal 1996 budget of $505 million.

Critics claim what the research centers do is of limited use to DoD. They question whether the centers shouldnt be downsized the same as the rest of DoD.

"The department has scrutinized the operations of our [centers] over the past years," Kaminski said. "We are taking these actions to deal with perceptions held by some that these centers have not been rightsized ... and that these centers are using their special status in some way to gain an unfair competitive advantage over commercial firms."

Kaminski announced four initiatives: limit research to core work, establish stringent criteria for acceptance of noncore work by the centers parent corporations, form an independent advisory committee to review DoDs management and oversight of the centers, and develop a set of guidelines to ensure management fees paid to the centers are based on justified need.

The centers account for about 4 percent of DoDs research budget, Kaminski said, but he noted their work is vitally important to U.S. defense capabilities. The longterm relationships between the centers and the department makes the centers a reservoir of propriety data and knowledge DoD can draw from.

A DoD team looking into the centers found $43 million of noncore work being done at the federally funded centers and $26 million at the university centers. "These noncore activities will in essence be divested outside of these research centers in a logical way," Kaminski said.

He said the DoD team believes the centers have downsized consistently with defense reductions. The federally funded centers, for example, have come down 34 percent since 1991.

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