Army Acquisition Chief Revamping R&D Funding
Photo: Defense Dept.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Army’s assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology is looking to aid the service’s modernization efforts by implementing new policies regarding research and development and intellectual property.
Bruce Jette said the Army has already realigned R&D funds to meet its top modernization priorities, which include long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift platforms, a mobile and expeditionary communication network, air and missile defense capabilities, and soldier lethality.
“The idea is to put the money not on various projects that may have been growing with a life of their own, but instead bring that money back against the top six priorities,” he said March 28 at the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
Additionally, Jette's office wants to give more freedom to researchers and lab directors by providing some funds that are specifically geared towards innovating technologies that the military may not have anticipated, he noted.
“We can’t ... incrementally engineer breakthroughs, and that’s what we’re trying to do is give them the freedom to do that,” he said.
Jette said the service is also working to establish a fund aimed at crossing the "Valley of Death,” referring to the process for transitioning new technologies into existing programs of record.
For example, a senior commander "would sit there and say ‘OK, one of the guys has this project, he’s got it done, it’s ready, and do we want to actually put it into that program?’” Jette said.
Following consultation with the program manager, senior leaders would then make a decision on the way forward, he explained. “We decide it’s worth it. We do it with our eyes open and ... then we fund the transition."
Jette also wants to improve how industry and the government handle intellectual property. Both sides have been “sloppy," he said.
“The government starts using your IP, you start using the government’s IP, you can’t get extricated and we begin having unpleasant complications," he said. There needs to be movement towards a more commercial model that may involve purchasing licenses from industry, he added.
“I’ve done this on the outside. Show me the box — that’s your IP. Put that in the bid. Show me what the limits of that [are],” he said. “Tell me what you want to do for licensing ... [and] we can have conversations.”
Industry can also license intellectual property from the government, he noted.
If "we built something and … you want to apply it commercially, you want to apply it to another effort, I’m willing to talk about licensing fees,” he said. “Most people don’t realize that, but the government can get paid for their intellectual property.”