Under mandate of Section 253, Study and Report on Effectiveness of Air Force Science and Technology Program Changes, of the Fiscal Year 2002 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Air Force contracted with the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct the present study. In response, the NRC established the Committee on Review of the Effectiveness of Air Force Science and Technology Program Changes-composed of academics, active and retired industry executives, former Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) civilian executives, and retired general officers with acquisition and science and technology (S&T) backgrounds. The committee was to review the effectiveness of the Air Force S&T program and, in particular, the actions that the Air Force has taken to improve the management of the program in recent years in response to concerns voiced in numerous study reports and by Congress. The committee's principal charter was to assess whether, as a whole, the changes put in place by the Air Force since 1999 are sufficient to assure that adequate technology will be available to ensure U.S. military superiority.
The committee conducted four open meetings to collect information from the Air Force and its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), the U.S Navy, the U.S. Army, and DoD. A great many factors influence any judgment of the S&T program's sufficiency in supporting future warfighter needs; these factors include threat assessment, budget constraints, technology opportunities, workforce, and program content. Given the relatively short time available for this study and considering the detailed reviews conducted annually by the SAB, the technical content of the S&T program was necessarily beyond the committee's purview. Rather, the committee focused on S&T management, including areas that have been studied many times, in depth, by previous advisory groups. Besides addressing technical content, those prior studies and congressional concerns highlighted four overarching S&T issues: advocacy and visibility, planning, workforce, and investment levels. In response, the Air Force instituted changes in S&T management.
The NRC is requested to conduct a study to determine how changes to the Air Force science and technology program implemented during the past two years affect the future capabilities of the Air Force. Effectiveness of Air Force Science and Technology Program Changes reviews and assess whether such changes as a whole are sufficient to ensure the following: A. That concerns about the management of the science and technology program that have been raised by the Congress, the Defense Science Board, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and the Air Force Association have been adequately addressed. B. That appropriate and sufficient technology is available to ensure the military superiority of the United States and counter future high-risk threats. C. That the science and technology investments are balanced to meet near-, mid-, and long-term needs of the Air Force. D. That the Air Force organizational structure provides for a sufficiently senior level advocate of science and technology to ensure an ongoing, effective presence of the science and technology community during the budget and planning process.
This report also assess the specific changes to the Air Force science and technology program as whether the biannual science and technology summits provide sufficient visibility into, and understanding and appreciation of, the value of the science and technology program to the senior level of Air Force budget and policy decision makers.