Proposed Strategic Defense Initiative Institute

T-NSIAD-87-32: Published: May 6, 1987. Publicly Released: May 6, 1987.

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GAO discussed the Department of Defense (DOD) proposal to establish a new federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) to provide the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) with technical support. GAO asked 11 consultants with broad governmental, military, industrial, and academic experience to evaluate the SDIO working group's proposal for the Strategic Defense Initiative Institute. The consultants: (1) assigned the highest ranking to the option of creating a new FFRDC or a new division in an existing FFRDC; (2) could not arrive at a consensus on the question of the preferred method of contractor selection; (3) felt that some kind of peer review of contractor proposals was necessary to guarantee the Institute's independence and objectivity; and (4) were split on the question of whether SDIO veto power over staff selection would compromise the Institute's independence. GAO also questioned the heads of nine DOD-sponsored FFRDC for their views and found that they believed that: (1) SDIO veto power over staff selection would compromise independence and objectivity; (2) SDIO and the Institute should develop work plans through mutual agreement and consultation; (3) a guarantee of some level of independent research was necessary; and (4) the absence of post-employment restrictions in addition to conflict-of-interest provisions would not compromise the Institute's independence.

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