Hopkins lab head to leave for CIA job

Applied Physics director will oversee science, technology for agency

April 03, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

After seven years as director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in North Laurel, Gary L. Smith will resign this spring to accept a top job at the CIA.

Smith, 63, of Ellicott City will become deputy director for science and technology, reporting to CIA Director George Tenet.

"I am looking forward to this new challenge, but I will miss working at APL," he said in an interview this week, noting that he has worked at the laboratory for 29 years.

Since becoming director in 1992, Smith has overseen day-to-day functions of the laboratory, the largest private employer in Howard County with 2,800 full-time employees and 600 on-site contractors.

During Smith's tenure, funding from the Pentagon to research and test military weapons at the 56-year-old lab started to dwindle because of a reduction in military spending after the end of the Cold War. Several years ago, the lab laid off some workers because of declining funds.

This year's budget is about $370 million.

"The end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall was a decline for the defense establishment, and rightly so," Smith said. The APL has shifted its focus by strengthening its relationships with the private sector and educating the public about the purpose of the lab, he said.

"We need to have a stronger presence in the community, because we do very important work here," he said.

Smith said that his duties at the CIA are being defined but that he will oversee a staff that will work with science-related companies and organizations affiliated with the CIA.

Pub Date: 4/03/99

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