WASHINGTON, DC – Federal News Radio interviewed Avascent’s writer-in-residence August Cole concerning an article he and Managing Director Tim Wickham wrote for National Defense Magazine entitled “Why the Pentagon and the Defense Industry Need to Engage Silicon Valley.”
One of the really important things to recognize is how hard the Department (of Defense) is working to change business as usual.” — August Cole
The Pentagon is looking beyond the defense establishment for technologies that can give it a competitive edge, especially with the multitude of competing challenges to National Security today. Silicon Valley offers business models that have a higher tolerance for risk in order to “fail fast” and move more quickly to new ideas in search of success. To emulate this approach in order to acquire new defense technologies however would take vast cultural shifts across both the Pentagon and the defense industry at large, driven by Ash Carter and senior defense leadership overall to get the momentum necessary for acquisitions reform.
Funding DARPA like entities and empowering them with the bureaucratic clearances to operate they way they need to “fail fast” could be one solution, as working with DoD can throw the financial futures of small companies into question. If a small firm is looking for a liquidity event in the long term, then they will be less inclined to build their technology for the Defense Department, as their intellectual property may be commandeered. Therefore the incentive alignment simply isn’t there, and that is one of the biggest challenges to pushing cutting edge technology through the defense acquisition process.
Listen to the full interview here.