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DoD plans longer-term strategy for Manufacturing USA institutes

April 25, 2019

The sustainability of Manufacturing USA institutes depends on their ability to offer value across a wide range of stakeholders according to a recent report by The National Academies of Sciences’ National Materials and Manufacturing Board, on behalf of The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Defense. Since 2012, DoD has invested more than $600 million in its Manufacturing USA institutes, with funding intended to help cover startup costs and the first five to seven years of operations. As these institutes begin to reach year five, DoD seeks to evaluate how its institutes are achieving their goals, the best ongoing role for the federal government, and potential long-term funding options. The findings of this study are unveiled in the Strategic Long-Term Participation by DoD in Its Manufacturing USA Institutes.

The study describes the business models deployed by the eight DoD institutes, challenges and lessons learned regarding the development of public-private partnerships around the institutes, and the potential costs and values to DoD associated with different types of engagement strategies. The report also makes four broad recommendations for the institutes, as well as areas for additional research. The main recommendations are to:

  • Conduct a formal review of each DoD manufacturing institute based on whether they are meeting the goals of the agency’s strategic plan;
  • Implement a hybrid business model that combines: continuation of core support (within budget constraints) and more sponsored projects;
  • Improve institute operations through activities such as linking to DoD R&D, increasing the flexibility of acquisition and contracting policies, developing relevant performance metrics, advancing workforce development best practices, and strengthening cross-institute collaboration; and,
  • Provide senior DoD support for institute engagement and communication with the department’s stakeholders.
dept of defense, mfg usa