Science and Technology; the Making of the Air Force Research Laboratory. (Book Reviews)

By Barnhill, John H. | Air Power History, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Science and Technology; the Making of the Air Force Research Laboratory. (Book Reviews)


Barnhill, John H., Air Power History


Science and Technology; The Making of the Air Force Research Laboratory. By Robert W Duffner. Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 2000. Tables. Illustrations. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Glossary. Index. Pp. xix, 307. ISBN: 1-58566-085-X

Air Force laboratories were under a lot of pressure in 1996. The Cold War's end de-emphasized new acquisitions. Plans were in place for reducing lab personnel--35 percent between 1994 and 2001. A 1995 report called for reductions of management and redundancy throughout the lab system and consolidation of all labs into one for all of the Department of Defense (DoD). The combined annual research and development (R&D) budget for labs within DoD, the Department of Energy, and NASA was $15 billion--out of the total government R&D budget of $70 billion. Seven years of reductions still had not eliminated stovepipes and duplication of even R&D efforts, not to mention staff. "Vision 21," DoD's long range plan for making labs more effective by 2005, identified 86 military labs, including 19 in the Air Force (only four formally separate USAF labs existed) that should be studied under the consolidation mandate. Implementation was to begin by 2000, with completion by 2005.

For more than a decade, under three administrations, the Air Force and DoD consistently tried to consolidate, rationalize, and shrink the number of labs, people and associated expenses. It was a period of consistent downsizing of dollars and defense, especially so in the aftermath of Desert Storm and the Cold War. Study after study said that the system was wasteful and duplicative, and every report said that money was going to be tighter. But in 1996, the Air Force still had four (or 19) labs instead of one, even as military and civilian workforces shrank. So the decision crept up channel and down channel, and on schedule the labs became one--but one with satellite locations, enough of them in fact that, "Indeed, most employees retained their positions and locations, and no organizations physically moved. …

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