ANSER Then & Now 1972

1972: ANSER the Federal Contract Research Center

On April 5, 1972, Dr. John S. Foster, Jr., Director of Research and Engineering, Office of the Secretary of Defense, spoke before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Research and Development of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The subject: Federal Contract Research Centers, of which Analytic Services Inc. was one. And ANSER was not only listed among the centers—the company’s origin, mission, and summary of current work were briefly described in the hearing.

The reason for the hearing “it seems,” to quote Dr. Foster, was “the idea that the ‘think tank’ FCRCs are troublesome and no longer useful or necessary in the area of studies and analyses, and that in-house military and civilian personnel should do the job.” His testimony came on the heels of congressional committee concerns that had led to certain recent actions—namely, reducing the FCRCs’ funding, stating that the military Services should begin phasing out the FCRCs, and suggesting that the FCRCs’ work should be moved “in-house.”

All of this would create such an atmosphere about the fate of the FCRCs that, three years later, some personnel resigning from ANSER would cite ANSER’s future as an FCRC as the major factor in their decision.

“I believe that these organizations perform a needed and continuing function better than can other available sources,” Dr. Foster said to the Senate committee in 1972. He described 12 FCRCs, dividing them into three categories: university laboratory FCRCs (e.g., Lincoln Laboratory, MIT), systems engineering FCRCs (e.g., MITRE), and studies and analysis FCRCs. The last category included ANSER, along with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), Research Analysis Corporation (RAC), the RAND Corporation, and the Army’s Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO).

In the transcript of this hearing that ANSER later preserved in corporate leadership material, the point at which Dr. Foster described HumRRO received a large handwritten exclamation point in the margin beside that paragraph. The exclamation point indicated the part where Dr. Foster noted that HumRRO had requested that the FCRC relationship with the Army be terminated “and that any new work undertaken be awarded on a straight competitive contractual basis.”

ANSER would do the same thing in 1976, dropping its designation as an FCRC with the Air Force and seeking such work on a “straight competitive contractual basis.”

“In summing up the situation regarding the study and analysis organizations,” Dr. Foster said in his conclusion, “I would like to dispel any apprehension that [the DoD] purchases its ‘brains’ from organizations [such as ANSER]…that OSD and Military Department decision-makers do not do their own planning and thinking.

“In fact,” he said, “we do carry out a great deal of internal planning and study and analysis, but an often missing ingredient to such in-house effort is, for example, a sufficiently broad data base, an independent cost analysis, or a critique of our assessment. To obtain help, we turn outside. We use consultant, for-profit firms, and non-profit firms, including our FCRCs. We use them all as each can best serve.”

Dr. Foster then answered specifically each of the Congress’s concerns about the FCRCs (the charge of “uncontrolled growth,” of “costly operations,” etc.). “We understand,” he then noted, “that once [an FCRC] has been established, we must guard against its unwarranted growth beyond the requirement for these special activities.

“Also,” Dr. Foster added in conclusion, “we must insure that only those evaluations and studies that cannot better be accomplished by other organizations should be assigned to one of these FCRCs.”