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Natick Soldier Center Wins Prestigious Army Award

American Forces Press Service

NATICK, Mass., Oct. 1, 2003 – For the second time in three years, the Natick Soldier Center at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here has been named the Army's best small research and development laboratory of the year.

Evaluation committee members reviewed the Army organizations using the same standards that would be applied to a commercial research and development center or academic institution. Unlike previous years, in which organizations voluntarily competed, every Army research and development organization was required to submit a nomination for the 2003 competition.

"You had to be really good to win. The committee had a high bar that an organization had to exceed to be considered as a candidate for the win. This was not simply a 'best of a poor lot' type of competition," Philip Brandler, NSC director, said during a town hall meeting with the NSC work force Sept. 12.

Eight organizations fall into the Army's small lab category, each with no more than 700 employees. NSC has about 500 employees.

Selection for the annual award is based on the organization's vision, strategy, and business plans; technical accomplishments such as technology breakthroughs, rapid improvements for troops, transition of technology and their impact on customer satisfaction throughout the Department of Defense; resource use, including professional certification and development of the technical staff, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment; and process improvements.

Organizations first submitted a written document, and then each organization's director gave a summary presentation addressing the competition criteria before an evaluation committee composed of senior representatives from the government, professional associations, industry and academia.

At the end of the presentation, each member asked at least one question to further explore the worthiness of the organization being evaluated.

In his presentation, Brandler cited examples that demonstrated the NSC's accomplishments in each of its core capabilities. Examples ranged from breakthroughs in fiber research and nanotechnology to providing "on the ground" support and technical solutions to deployed forces.

He focused on NSC's development of the Scorpion, a protective head-to-toe ensemble for the Army's premier soldier technology effort, Objective Force Warrior.

Brandler showed how NSC's funding is increasing significantly because of strong customer focus and strategic program planning. He also highlighted vigorous growth in scientific and engineering staff, the high quality of the new staff as well as the existing staff's commitment to self-improvement.

The award will be presented at the Army Acquisition Corps Ball in Washington Oct. 5.

(Adapted from a Natick Soldier Center news release.)

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