Recent studies show that the percentage of overall research and development spending sponsored by the government has dropped sharply over the last 50 years.
Whereas government funding accounted for 67 percent of R&D in 1964, it accounted for 23 percent in 2015, a 44 percent reduction. For the government, this is not a salutary development. Increasingly, “state of the art” is being defined by the commercial marketplace, without government participation and often without its access to the resulting technological advances.
One need only recall the intense media furor over the government’s inability, for months, to obtain access to the shooters’ encrypted cell phone data following the December 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack to appreciate the consequences when the developers of advanced commercial technology eschew the federal marketplace.
The government has attempted for years to reverse this trend. In fact, the Federal Acquisition and Streamlining Act of 1994, popularly known as “FASA,” had, as one of its primary purposes, the attraction of commercial entities into the federal marketplace. The trend, however, continues.
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Note: This post was originally published in the October 2017 issue of the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Defense magazine.