DOD ACQUISITION PICK SIGNALS DRIVE FOR INNOVATION
President Biden has nominated Michael Brown, the head of DOD’s innovation arm, to be the next Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S). Brown’s job at DIU focused on rapid prototyping and acquisition, but he also has a strong private-sector background. His nomination, along with those of other senior acquisition leaders, indicates a strong preference for people with solid technology backgrounds and a desire for moving quickly to implement new solutions in that area. The GSA Administrator-designee, Robin Carnahan, has a similar tech background and her FAS Commissioner, Sonny Hashmi, is a former Chief Information Officer. The Administration clearly believes that the tech sector can bring lessons learned into the realm of acquisition. Brown’s innovation unit has been hailed by many for bringing new companies into the defense supply chain and for sponsoring innovative technologies. They key now will be to try and implement those successes on a much larger scale. Brown also brings with him a strong cybersecurity background from his time as CEO of Symantec. Cyber remains a hot button issue and getting advanced solutions into the hands of DOD users more quickly may be a prime focus area for the new Undersecretary. Current defense contractors may want to position themselves accordingly and be pro-active with ideas on how to bring innovative acquisition to more types of DOD projects than those Brown has previously worked on. Being seen as both tech-forward and agile on acquisition may provide opportunities for industry to work more closely with the new DOD team.