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The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has the responsibility for defining and sponsoring research and development (R&D) necessary to support both the current and future requirements of the Navy and Marine Corps. To accomplish this mission, ONR must fund a broad spectrum of research, ranging from basic research needed to open up new options for the long-term to near-term advanced technology development to support the current fleet. Moreover, ONR must make its R&D funding decisions in the presence of uncertainty: uncertainty in required capabilities, in performance requirements, and in the feasibility of a technology or R&D approach. This monograph describes the adaptation of an R&D portfolio management (PortMan) decision framework developed by the RAND Corporation to support ONR’s R&D decisionmaking, and the demonstration of its use by means of a case study evaluation of 20 sample ONR applied-research projects. PortMan computes the expected value of an R&D project as the product of three factors estimated by experts: value to the military of the capability sought through R&D, the extent to which the performance potential matches the level required to achieve the capability, and the project’s transition probability. This approach allows identification of those R&D projects with high-value capabilities but formidable technical or fielding problems that remain to be solved-projects for which management attention may have the greatest leverage.

The research described in this briefing was sponsored by the United States Navy. The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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