The Global Research and Development Landscape and Implications for the Department of DefenseFor more than 70 years, the technological superiority of the United States military has offset the size and geographic advantages of potential adversaries.
The Department of Defense (DOD), due in large part to the magnitude of its investments in research and development (R&D),has driven the global R&Dand technology landscape. However, DOD and the federal governmentmore broadly areno longer overriding fundersof R&D,and thisshift in support for R&D has substantial implications forhowDODobtains advanced technology and maintains the battlefield overmatch that technology has historically provided.
In 1960, the United States accounted for 69% of global R&D(measured in share of expenditures), with U.S.defense-related R&D alone accounting for more than one-third of global R&D (36%). Additionally, the federal government funded approximately twice as much R&D as U.S. business. However, from 1960 to 2019, the U.S. share of global R&D fell to 30%, and the federal government’s share of total U.S. R&D fell from 65% to 21%, while business’sshare more than doubled from 33% to 71%.
As a result of these global, national, and federal trends, federal defense R&D’s share of total global R&D fell to 3.1% in 2019. This decline resulted primarily frommore rapid increases in the R&D of other nations (public and private) and partially fromincreases in U.S. business R&D and federal nondefense R&D.
Some defense experts and policymakers have recognized the shift in the global R&D landscape and the need for DOD to rely increasingly on technologies developed by commercial companies for commercial markets. Among the challenges DOD faces in acquiring new, innovative technologies and maintaining U.S. military technical superiority are developing /modifying organizations and business models to access this technology; adapting the DOD business culture to seek and embrace technologies developed outside of DOD, the United States,and its traditional contractor base; and finding ways to adapt and leverage commercial technologies for defense application
s.Congress plays a central role in how DOD creates and acquires leading-edge technologies, including establishing and refining the organizational structure of DOD R&D activities, providing policy direction, establishing acquisition policies and authorities, and appropriating funds for R&D and innovation-related activities.
Congress and the Administration have undertaken a number of actions to address the perceived decline in technical superiority, includingestablishing the position of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineeringto coordinate DOD’s research enterprise, drive the development of key technologies, and create a more agile and innovative department;increasing DODcollaboration and engagement with industry and academia
For example, DOD has increased itspresence in U.S. commercial technology hubsthrough the Defense Innovation Unit, established partnership intermediary agreements with various organizations, andco-located DOD research and development personnel at partner institutions across the country; andworking to alter the culture of DOD to increase the speed technologies are developed, adapted, and acquired, including through the use of other transaction authority.
As DOD implements these reform efforts congressional oversight may include monitoringhow effectively DOD is addressing congressional directives and intent to create a more risk tolerant and innovative DOD
The full report is here — https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R45403.pdf