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Independent Research and Development (IR&D): The Challenges Continue

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The objective of IR&D policy is to support the emergence of transformative defense technologies in the absence of a traditional market. However, some recently-proposed changes to IR&D policy call for increased oversight procedures, sparking considerable debate over just how “independent” such research efforts should be. Indeed, there is legitimate concern that the policy changes could stifle private-sector innovation by derailing promising lines of research that may have significant, if not clearly discernable, defense applications.

These changes come at a time in which the nation faces new challenges that jeopardize its superiority, demanding a renewed commitment to innovation generally. These challenges include adversary adaptation, budgetary constraints, and the loss of domestic technical capabilities.

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