ANSER Then & Now 1968

1968: ANSER Looks Back and Ahead 10 Years

The celebration was relatively small, but the cause for celebration was certainly big.

On Friday, October 18, 1968, Analytic Services Inc. commemorated their tenth year of existence by lunching at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Attending the lunch were more than just ANSER employees, trustees and ex-trustees, and officials. The list of Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) officials who also attended the lunch read like a “who’s who” of very important people in ANSER’s circles of influence. Among them were two- and three-star generals from the Air Force research and development arena.

ANSER’s Board of Trustees later noted the many congratulations and commendations expressed by those Air Force and DoD representatives regarding ANSER’s operations during the past ten years.

Details of those operations were captured coincidentally that same year in a statement issued by the Board “concerning overall objectives, performance and accomplishments, and management and resources.” In that report, the Board described how ANSER’s timely, objective system analyses and operations research were a “major input” to Air Force and DoD decision-makers—specifically the process for concept formulation of future weapon systems. Strategic missiles and light intratheater transport were among the five major studies highlighted in the report.

One other study among that top five was the recent concept development of an over-the-horizon type of radar system that, if approved by the DoD, would be a major innovation in the defense system of the continental United States.

The five studies highlighted were somewhat current studies—work ANSER had been tackling during that past year leading up to the October 1968 report. The report itself was actually an update of a similar report that ANSER had undertaken the year before, released in October of 1967. That report was the start of the Board reviewing all that the company had done in the years since its inception, from its method of operations and finances to a frank appraisal of its performance. The Board noted the discussions they had initiated with Air Force representatives over the company’s limitations—how ANSER could take what they were already doing well and do it even better. In summary, the Board found that ANSER, “because of the effectiveness of its operations and the competence of its personnel, is filling a very real need in support of the Department of Defense program to assure the national security.”

With the 1968 update of that 1967 report, ANSER had an annual report in place for the first time, but the circumstances that generated the need for such a report were almost a report unto themselves. In early 1967, a Defense Science Board task force—what became known as the Alpert Committee—released its findings and recommendations from a study of the Federal Contract Research Centers (FCRCs). Relating those findings to the Board, ANSER President Dr. Lawwill said he anticipated that the Air Force would request from each of the FCRCs a “statement of their interpretation of the primary purposes and the current technical objectives” of their organization. ANSER went ahead and assembled a report before the Air Force asked for it.

The Air Force soon asked for the report, ANSER submitted it—and then the Air Force submitted the report, along with similar reports from the other FCRCs, to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Dr. John Foster, Director of Defense Research and Engineering, was gathering such data to prepare for his testimony to Congress regarding the FCRCs. The relationship between the Federal Government and nongovernment organizations who did government work—a consistently hot topic since the early 1960s—was now bubbling up into congressional hearings.

So it was that, in the course of one year, ANSER celebrated their influence in “extending the frontiers of analysis techniques,” as the Board noted, even as they prepared for something growing increasingly larger on the horizon: the possibility of a profound change in their relationship with the Air Force.