Revitalizing the DoD Laboratories: New Governance Approaches May Be the Answer

Robert A. Kavetsky, Michael L. Marshall (2013)

The end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War raised new concerns in the Defense community concerning the competitiveness and efficiency of defense laboratories. This became a particularly important issue with science and technology beginning to play such an integral role in national defense, both on the battlefields of WWII and in the deterrence-based stratagem of the Cold War. To meet the demand for improved capabilities, the DOD and the federal government established a number of contract research centers administered by universities; these were the prototypes for the current UARC and FFRDC model of laboratories and “think-tanks”.

Regardless of the management model that one might favor, the approach finally taken must address several key issues including:  less regulated hiring practices; increasing wage competiveness to attract and retain new STEM talent; and  reform of antiquated management and oversight practices in laboratories.  By addressing these concerns the DOD and affiliated laboratories will be able to maintain the technological edge in the science and technology fields critical for an effective national defense enterprise.


Chapter 1: In-House Department of Defense Laboratories.

Chapter 2: The Persistent Challenges Facing Defense Laboratory Reform Efforts

Incremental Change and Marginal Fixes.

Congressional Initiatives.

Chapter 3:Other Paradigms for Laboratory Governance.

Contingent Workforce: A Proposed DSB Task Force Approach..

The GOCO Option..

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.

Public-Private Partnerships.

The Government-Owned Corporation..

The Public University Analogy..

Chapter 4: The Quasi Government

Chapter 5: Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.


FFRDCs: Historical Context.

FFRDCs: Congressional and Other Concerns (1950s-1980s).

FFRDCs: 2000 – Present.



Chapter 6: University Affiliated Research and Development Centers.

Appendix A: Bibliography of Laboratory-Related Studies.

Appendix B: Laboratory-Related Congressional Legislation.

Appendix C: Laboratory Cross-Service Cost Issues.