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At the request of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), a Study Committee comprised of representatives from the American Physical Society (APS) Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) performed a technical review of the DNDO Transformational and Applied Research Directorate (TARD) research and development program. TARD's principal objective is to address gaps in the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture (GNDA) through improvements in the performance, cost, and operational burden of detectors and systems. The charge to the Study Committee was to investigate the existing TARD research and development plan and portfolio, recommend changes to the existing plan, and recommend possible new R&D areas and opportunities.
The recommendations in this report are meant to help TARD improve their activities and are not an endorsement of the DNDO. The Study Committee believes that DNDO should pursue a future study—carried out by an organization such as the National Academies — of its management approach and that it be undertaken at the earliest possible date, preferably prior to making long-term commitments to additional technology development projects.
The Study Committee has the following general recommendations regarding TARD:
The Study Committee has reviewed the technical programmatic areas within the TARD R&D portfolio, and makes specific recommendations for each technical area:
Within the TARD research programs, the committee notes that past Advanced Technology Demonstrations have lacked adequate analysis, laboratory testing, and quantitative metrics, as well as user input prior to execution of the extensive technology demonstrations. The committee therefore recommends changes to the Advanced Technology Demonstration Program.
TARD experienced significant budget cuts in FY12 disrupting its overall research program. The FY13 budget did restore significant funding enabling TARD to fund a broader range of research projects required for TARD to achieve its overall mission. But the Study Committee notes that ARI funding aimed at university basic research programs has still suffered disproportionate cuts relative to the ATD program; the Committee urges DNDO to carefully examine and evaluate the impact of the budgetary ARI reductions on the prospects for vital long-term transformational discoveries.