Chapter VII. Technology Transfer
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)


E. The Federated Laboratory Concept--A New Paradigm

In many areas, such as information science, technology is advancing so fast that the Army cannot and should not lead, but must build on the Nation's civil infrastructure. The traditional short-term approach is to let a series of contracts to solve specific isolated problems. The new paradigm is to create a "federated laboratory," which forges long-term cooperative relationships with carefully selected partners. Work of these partners is integrated into a unified effort, including (when appropriate) in-house work in specialized areas. Traditional hard boundaries between government, industry, and academia become more permeable as work and people move back and forth between partners.

The federated laboratory was conceived to meet the realities of the post-Cold War environment. Downsizing of Defense has resulted in excess capacity in government, industry, and university R&D sectors. This provides an opportunity to collaborate with external centers of technical expertise in new ways. The objective is to continue strong in-house effort to meet Army-unique requirements where there is little external expertise, but to forge direct associations with industry, university, and other government laboratories in areas where the centers of expertise are outside the Army. This cooperative mode also encourages dual use.

The Army Research Laboratory is serving as a prototype of this new approach. ARL will have two major "centers of gravity." At Aberdeen, Maryland, ARL will maintain a predominantly in-house program focused on armor, armament, and soldier systems. In these areas we have unique Army requirements and historically strong capabilities. At Adelphi, Maryland, ARL will develop a predominantly external program to "Win the Information War." As we strengthen our efforts in digital telecommunications, battlefield command and control, and information science, we will build on the world-class capabilities of some of our nation's best institutions, not create duplicate capability in-house. As illustrated in Figure VII-8, we must develop an entirely new operational concept linking ARL, industry, academic institutions, and other government laboratories into a unified whole.

Figure VII-8. Distributed Capabilities in Army Laboratories, Industry, Academia, and Tradoc Battle Labs

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Efforts with an in-house center of gravity will use about 60 to 80 percent of their resources in-house because of their recognized expertise and the uniqueness of their work. Under the new paradigm they will be more strongly linked to industry, academia, and other government laboratories to gain leverage through open lab programs and personnel exchanges. Efforts with an external center of gravity will use about 60 to 80 percent of their resources externally. The in-house portion will maintain a core competency and smart-buyer role. Here the emphasis will be on multi-center external modes of operation with substantial personnel exchanges among partners.