NEW PUBLICATION: Risk-Informed Decisionmaking for Science & Technology
Defense Technology Paper, Center for Technology & National Security Policy
"Risk-informed Decisionmaking for Science & Technology"
by Samuel Musa, William Berry, Richard Chait, John Lyons, and Vincent Russo
To properly understand science and technology (S&T) leadership and decisionmaking in government laboratories, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy Homeland Security team conducted a study on practical approaches to S&T riskinformed decisionmaking and metrics for program selection. The study was conducted for the Director of Research of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The results are applicable to other S&T organizations.
The goals of this study are: first, to apply leadership lessons learned from the Department of Defense laboratory management experience to the needs of DHS; second, to recommend best practices for leadership in the S&T Directorate; and third, to respond
to DHS-requested areas of evaluation.1 This paper synthesizes the results of this study.
Initially, the CTNSP team concentrated on the need for practical approaches that the DHS leadership could use to make critical risk-informed decisions and developed metrics for the selection of the most beneficial programs and projects.
A risk versus impact analysis tool for decisionmaking was developed. This tool utilized technical, political, transition, financial, and institutional risk areas that were prioritized. The impact areas included mission, pervasiveness, knowledge base, avoiding surprise, leadership, longevity, utility to others, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), affordability, and convenience/acceptance to the American public. The impact areas were also prioritized. A figure of merit, which is the sum of the impact areas divided by the sum of the risk areas, was generated. This figure of merit was applied to three examples: Army electric gun, composites for AF B-2, and the DHS high priority technology need of detecting person-borne IEDs from a standoff distance.
The team then examined the flow process for potential program selection and funding. The styles of decisionmaking within DOD Laboratory management were then considered and the differences between leadership and management were highlighted. The team believes that the tools provided in this paper will be of value to the DHS S&T leadership in the process of program selection and ultimate funding. The next step is to apply these tools to other high-priority technology needs within the various divisions of the DHS S&T Directorate. Of course,these risk-informed decisionmaking tools can be used by any organization for analytical S&T program decisionmaking.
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