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The Army Science Board (ASB) traces its lineage to the 1950s, when Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. determined the Army’s existing research and development (R&D) programs were struggling to support Soldiers in Korea and would face increasing  challenges in future conflicts. Traditionally, the Army’s R&D program had been closely associated with acquisitions and procurement, which emphasized incremental product improvement over basic science and research.
One of the steps Secretary Pace took to address those concerns was to establish an informal advisory committee consisting of a dozen pre-eminent scientists and industry leaders. His successor, Secretary Robert T. Stevens, formally instituted the Army Scientific Advisory Panel (ASAP) with a permanent charter and larger membership in 1954.   
The ASAP served as the Secretary’s advisory board to assist him in directing the Army’s R&D matters. Administratively, the ASAP worked directly with the Office of the Chief of Research and Development (OCRD) which fell under the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, Logistics and later, under the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Research. In 1974, the OCRD was abolished and had its functions transferred to the newly established Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development, and Acquisition (DCSRDA), which also acquired materiel procurement functions from Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics.
The proliferation of advisory boards in the executive branch during the 1950s and 1960s led to a bipartisan call for accountability. On several occasions, congress had attempted to pass legislation to regulate resources expended on the committees, develop rules for selecting members, and provide a means to make committee decisions accessible to the public. These Congressional efforts culminated in the passage of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 1972. Subsequently, the ASB was chartered to replace the ASAP as a federal advisory committee.
By then, the Board had grown to approximately 70 members conducting several studies per year on behalf of senior Army leaders. Administrative support for the Board was provided by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASA(RDA)), who served as a direct advisor to the Secretary of the Army but did not perform the acquisition executive function. Following passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, the Army eliminated the DCSRDA position in 1988 and moved its deputy acquisition executive function to ASA (RDA). The office was later changed to the ASA for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)).
The ASAP and ASB have gravitated around the acquisition community because acquisition has traditionally encompassed procurement, logistics, science and technology, research and development, contracting, sustainment, and maintenance. In short, anything involving cradle-to-grave life cycles of defense materiel and technology. Thus, the ASB Executive Directorate continued to reside under ASA(ALT) until 2012, when it was transferred to the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of the Army (ODUSA). The move was made due to concerns regarding the Board’s ability to present SECARMY independent, objective analyses while under the ASA(ALT).
The ASB’s move to ODUSA reflected changes in its mission and the ongoing transformation of the Army. In 2009, SECARMY rechartered the ASB with a broader scope of activities (beyond scientific, technological, etc.), to include business management functions. For the next several years, the Board was assigned various studies under that portfolio. The evolution led to the Board taking a prominent role in advocating for improvements in the Army’s science and technology enterprise, culminating in the formation of Army Futures Command (AFC) in 2017.
Given its expanded role, in 2019, the ASB took on the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB), which was instituted in 1970 to advise the Chief of Engineers on national resource management matters and to support to the Army Corps of Engineers in meeting environmental operating principles. Under the restructuring, the EAB now constitutes a subcommittee of the ASB parent committee. 
Currently, the ASB’s mission is to “provide independent advice and recommendations on matters relating to (a) Army scientific, technical, manufacturing, acquisition, logistics, and business management functions; (b) environmental and water resource management issues involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), to include the Military Program and the Civil Works Program; and (c) other Department of the Army-related matters as determined by the Secretary of the Army.”
The ASB has the capacity to conduct 3-5 studies (12 mos.) per FY and 1-2 additional quick reaction assessments (45-90 days). Following deliberation and adoption of findings and recommendations by the Board, the ASB provides executive briefings to senior Army leaders and final reports documenting the Board’s work.
Historic Army Science Board Photos