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Research Question

  1. Upon discovering a risk or vulnerability to U.S. science and technology innovation, how can DoD decisionmakers quickly and effectively determine relevant approaches that can mitigate the risk, and their related implementation considerations?

The U.S. government has developed hundreds of approaches to promote and protect critical technologies and their associated industrial base, and the sheer number and diversity of these programs, policies, and initiatives present a logistical challenge for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Upon discovering a risk or vulnerability to a critical technology, DoD must be able to quickly and effectively determine relevant approaches that can mitigate the problem, and the approaches' related implementation considerations.

To assist DoD in this approach selection, the authors of this report developed a selection framework that (1) identifies relevant approaches based on features of the technology and strategy, (2) provides details on approach implementation considerations, and (3) is instantiated by an interactive tool for use by government entities to inform approach decisionmaking. In this report, they describe the selection framework and provide supporting documentation for the associated tool.

Key Findings

The Promotion and Protection (P&P) Tool helps DoD decisionmakers select approaches to promote and protect critical technologies — and gain insight on this issue

  • The P&P tool is a Microsoft Excel workbook with Visual Basic for Applications that uses an algorithm based on simple Boolean logic to match user inputs to an underlying database containing a set of available approaches that are characterized for the same features.
  • The initial tool contains data for 35 approaches — it is designed so that DoD users can add additional approaches and update existing ones in the tool's underlying dataset.
  • The P&P Tool allows rapid identification of approaches that are relevant for a specific use case or technology strategy.
  • The P&P Tool is also designed to provide users a "learning-by-doing" experience. Users of the tool not only gain insight into a set of approaches for further research, but also an understanding of the decision space constructed by available approaches.
  • As more approaches are added to the tool, a lack of identified approaches for a specific area or sector could be a signal that new mechanisms are needed for technology protection and promotion in that area or sector.

This research was sponsored by the Strategic Technology Protection and Exploitation (STP&E) Division of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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

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