ANSER | 1978: Twenty Years in the Life
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1978: Twenty Years in the Life

It was a new era for Analytic Services.

First, there was the “new environment,” as the Board of Trustees had called it, that began for ANSER in 1976 with its non-FCRC status. The company was diversifying its work, actively seeking contractual work with more sponsors than just the Air Force. A primary example of that was a collection of analyses that ANSER was doing on the benefits of applying technologies to the health field (e.g., information systems for patient care).

Then there was the move to a new facility on Army-Navy Drive in Arlington, a process that began in 1977 and was completed in early 1978. There was so much going on that was new, ANSER even updated its logo prior to the move, to herald the newness.

It was that newness to which the Board referred when the company celebrated 20 years in September of 1978—a cause for “rejoicing and reflection,” they called it.

They reflected on the size and shape of the company. In 1970, the ANSER divisions had become divisions—no longer to be called branches, as they had since the company’s inception. Over the years, they had created (or disassembled) divisions, demonstrating their agility in staying current and keeping up with client demands. In 1978, ANSER again showed that agility, creating a Space Division to handle the ever-increasing demands on the company in that arena.

They reflected on another company characteristic that had changed considerably since the company’s inception: the size of the staff. Counting 92 analysts and 64 support staff members—making for a full-time staff of 156—ANSER saw its staff double for the first time in 17 years. The caliber of the staff had improved as well, the Board further noted. More than 35 percent of the analysts now held doctoral degrees.

They reflected on new work and related relationships—or, as in the case of the Air Force, an “old” relationship made new, thanks to ANSER’s new status as a “non-FCRC (Federal Contract Research Center).” And there was new work to go with it. Missiles, airlift, and avionics were just a few of the major study areas that ANSER continued to undertake for the Air Force. Added to that in 1978 was Mission Area Analysis.

ANSER had been doing such work for the research, development, and acquisition side of the Air Force. Now they would do it for the operations, plans, and readiness side, introducing methods to analyze requirements and program objectives for two fiscal years down the road.

Mission Area Analysis fell under the ANSER work area dubbed “planning programs and allocating resources,” and included in that area were projects related to space. In 1978, the space shuttle was nearing its maiden flight, and DoD was looking at the shuttle as one major element in an “overall space transportation system.” ANSER helped the Air Force work out a policy for determining the price to charge users outside the DoD for orbiting payloads at high altitude.

That was just one of the space studies on ANSER’s table. Space defense became a hot topic in 1978, and ANSER helped plan programs related to the space defense objectives of improved space surveillance, increased satellite system survivability, and development of anti-satellite capabilities. They were also studying an advanced space transportation system that would be “more survivable, responsive, and flexible than the shuttle.” The scope of the study looked beyond the 1980s.

To look at anything past the next decade was, if anything, to look beyond the horizon—and it was something that ANSER was becoming good at. In their 20 years so far, they had looked at independent research as a means to spread the company’s reach without overextending that reach. That had paid off. They had looked at what life without the Air Force as a “sole source” contract would be like—taking that look well in advance of such a life beginning—and that had paid off. They were continuing to look, on behalf of the Nation, at where aircraft, air defense, and more would be, not only in the near future but also in the distant future. That was paying off.

And that, all of it—every measured step they had taken to get to this point, every professional person they had brought on staff that enabled them to take those steps—was cause for rejoicing indeed.