The Department of Defense wants a piece of the Silicon Valley tech scene.
To Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, that means opening its arms to entrepreneurs and removing some of the bureaucracy that can scare them away from partnering with the government.
In a speech peppered with corporate lingo, Carter addressed a crowd at Moffett Field in Mountain View on Wednesday to announce he’s ramping up efforts to connect with companies creating new technology in the commercial sector that could be used in military operations. It’s been eight months since the DOD launched an official program dedicated to forging those partnerships — dubbed the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) — and Carter said it’s time for a few changes to that model.
Carter dubbed the revamped initiative “DIUx 2.0.” He said the new-and-improved program will including “scaling” by opening a second office in Boston, upgrading the DIUx system to increase its processing power, requesting another $30 million to fund tech projects, and making it easier and faster for private companies to score government deals.
The change also included a leadership shakeup. The program will be led by Raj Shah, former Palo Alto Networks executive. He replaces George Duchak. In another change, Shah now will report directly to Carter, sidestepping some of the Pentagon bureaucracy.
“This is to signify the importance that I attach to this mission,” Carter said Wednesday. “And also the importance of speedy decision making.”
The goal is to get the government moving at “the speed of business,” Carter said. During a Q&A session, he admitted the DOD often does not move fast enough, and that companies have complained about the DOD remaining stuck in its ways. Carter says he wants to get creative with how the DOD funds projects, among other things.
“I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to think outside our five-sided-box and invest aggressively in change and innovation,” he said.
Photo: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and new head of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental Raj Shah address reporters Wednesday in Mountain View. (Marisa Kendall/Bay Area News Group)