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Program Assessment


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Defense Applied Research Program

This program supports scientific study of physical, biomedical, behavioral or other phenomena to determine the means by which a particular military need may be met. This work is a little more advanced and applied than the basic research from which it may arise.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • Program purpose and design are clear. The purpose is to support quality science with potential application to the defense mission. The Department has established methodical processes for setting program goals and for reviewing progress.
  • Reviews of the program by external review panels are not independent of program officials. Some reviewers are government employees with financial associations to the program areas under review.
  • A large part of the program is executed either without the benefit of military or scientific expertise in choosing the funded work or without allowing the applications process to be open to all capable researchers. Earmarking of projects in the program has increased dramatically in the past two decades and has led to these problems.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Ensuring that adequate funding exists to carry promising basic research results through the applied research phase.
  • Changing the expert evaluation process to use fully independent review panels in assessing the performance of the program.
  • Working with the research community and Congress to explain the need to limit claims on research grant funds to proposals that independently can meet the standards of a strict merit-review process.

Learn More

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