Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, has requested that the Defense Science Board form a Task Force to “assess matters relating to departmental planning and managing the defense basic research program.” Chairing the Task Force will be Lydia Thomas and Craig Fields.
The Board was established in 1956. It now has 32 members and seven ex officio members, with terms ranging from one to four years. The Board’s website explains: “The Board operates by forming Task Forces consisting of Board members and other consultants/experts to address those tasks referred to it by formal direction. The products of each Task Force typically consist of a set of formal briefings to the Board and appropriate DoD officials, and a written report containing findings, recommendations and a suggested implementation plan.”This is the fifth Task Force appointed in 2010. Other studies are being conducted on topics such as an “assessment of nuclear treaty monitoring and verification technologies” and “trends and implications of climate change for national and international security.” Further information on the Board is available here.
The Memorandum establishing the Task Force on Basic Research includes the following charge:
“The Task Force on Basic Research will serve as a mechanism for external validation of the quality of the basic research program and for advice on long term research plans and strategies for the corporate-wide defense basic research portfolio. Organizational efficiency and the effective utilization of quality program personnel are equally essential. The Task Force should give additional strategic guidance on DoD basic research efforts by assessing:
The appropriateness of broad scientific goals as a basic research program, specifically whether the 6.1 [basic research] funded work is basic or applied research in character,
The manner in which the components assess the quality of their basic research investments,
Basic research portfolio management across DoD, and opportunities for increased information sharing and cooperation among the components and with other federal research agencies,
Potential gaps in the current Department-wide basic research program,
Overall program balance, including a balance between single-principal investigators (PI's), Multi-University Research Initiatives (MURI's), university- based centers (e.g. UARC's) and high-risk high-payoffs vs. lower risk research,
Intellectual competitiveness of intramural and extramural basic research programs.”
The entire Memorandum may be read here.