Nor did Mann have to worry that a good idea would struggle for funding. Whereas many government research heads fret about budgets that don’t at least keep pace with inflation, past DARPA directors are surprisingly blasé about the agency’s finances. “I never really felt constrained by money,” Tether says. “I was more constrained by ideas.” In fact, aerospace engineer Verne (Larry) Lynn, DARPA’s director from 1995 to 1998, says he successfully lobbied Congress to shrink his budget after the Clinton administration had boosted it to “dangerous levels” to finance a short-lived technology reinvestment program. “When an organization becomes bigger, it becomes more bureaucratic,” Lynn told an interviewer in 2006.
A little about what makes DARPA tick. This reminds me of come of the comments from Xerox PARC (from John Seely Brown? — I can’t remember) about how important it was to keep the research budget (not the D, of R+D) below 1%. Any higher, and the bean counters would get interested, and start trying to manage the budget. [See my previous post from Alan Kay]. Not all increases in funding are a good idea (unless the success metric is money, rather than discovery)