Defense Companies Sign Letter Urging Acquisition Reform

By Cambrie Eckert

iStock illustration, Defense Dept. photos

ARLINGTON, Virginia — The Defense Department doesn’t have an innovation problem, it has an innovation adoption problem, according to a June 23 open letter from defense companies to the secretary of defense.

Based on the findings of the bipartisan Atlantic Council Commission on Defense Innovation Adoption, the letter emphasized four recommendations the Defense Department could implement that would speed the adoption of commercial technologies needed to keep pace with peer competitors.

“The time required to develop critical technologies to meet the threat later this decade is no longer the obstacle; it is our inability to scale already developed commercial technologies into production, iterate upon them and sustain them in the hands of the warfighter,” the letter said.

The letter — signed by leaders of 13 venture capital and defense technology companies — urged the Defense Department to modernize “to align with the 21st century industrial base.”

The letter noted the progress in making the Defense Innovation Unit report directly to the secretary of defense and called for providing the unit with the staff and resources needed to engage with non-traditional defense companies.

The signatories argued that would help the Defense Department “align defense capability requirements with leading technologies.”

The second recommendation called for the department to leverage “U.S. capital markets to support defense innovation and mission outcomes.” That includes enhancing the Small Business Innovation Research grants program to “generate direct-to-Phase III SBIR grants, enable flexible contract vehicles and remove existing barriers for small businesses with backing by venture capitalists or publicly traded companies to compete for SBIR grants,” according to the letter.

Congress and the Defense Department should rebalance the ratio of research, development, test and evaluation and procurement funding to historical norms, which would provide more than $20 billion in procurement funding to promote faster acquisition of commercial technology, it stated.

The final recommendation proposed the establishment of a bridge fund for demonstrated technologies, which would help scale and accelerate successful capabilities. ND

Topics: Defense Department

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