Organization of Manpower Research and Advisory Services came about because of Leonard Carmichael, Secretary of the Smithsonian (1953-1964), who had a long-standing interest and professional involvement in United States military manpower matters. Toward the end of Carmichael's tenure at the Smithsonian, he became principle investigator for a contract with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which provided consulting assistance to the Psychological Sciences Division at ONR. With help from a part-time assistant, Carmichael conducted a modest manpower research effort at the Smithsonian until 1971. When the contract was expanded in 1972, at the request of ONR, H. Wallace Sinaiko was appointed full-time assistant to Carmichael and research was shifted from the draft to volunteer manning in the U.S. Navy. Carmichael, at the time Emeritus Secretary of the Smithsonian as well as Vice President of the National Geographical Society, began serving as nominal principle investigator of the project. In 1974 Carmichael passed away and the role of principle investigator was assumed by Sinaiko, who, later that same year, became Program Director for the newly established Manpower Research and Advisory Services, which reported to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research. The program continued as the Smithsonian submitted proposals, on a yearly basis (every third year after 1986), to ONR for contract renewals. Eventually contractual agreements ceased in December 1993, as a result of budget constraints, and Manpower Research and Advisory Services closed in April 1994.
Manpower Research and Advisory Services was concerned with the analysis and definition of U.S. Navy manpower and personnel problems that were associated with the changeover to an all-volunteer Navy. Formal agendas were prepared through ONR's Manpower Research and Development Program Committee; conferences and symposiums organized to address a wide range of topics (e.g., effectiveness of recruitment advertising, innovative methodologies for measuring morale, etc.); annual participation in meetings of the Inter-University Seminar (IUS) on Armed Forces and Society; and involvement in cross-national research and exchange, such as The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) - a defense consortium of the principle English-speaking nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States. Staff included H. Wallace Sinaiko, Program Assistant, 1972-1974, Program Director, 1974-1994; Becky Graham, Administrative Officer, 1972-1989; Marsha Morahan, Administrative Officer, 1989-1994; and Carol Blair, Secretary, 1976-1994.