DOD PROGRAM TO ALLOW FOR SMALL SCALE FAILURES IS MODEL FOR OTHERS
The Department of Defense’s “Third Offset” where commercial-based technologies will be developed and tested for military applications, is something of which all other agencies should stand up and take notice. The program is designed to test potentially important tech applications on a small scale. DOD acknowledges that it doesn’t have the answers and is relying on the private sector to develop new solutions. They also know that not all, perhaps even none, of the innovations being tested will work. This is the key for other agencies. Failure, at least on a small scale, must be an option if the ultimate goal is to find truly innovative technology solutions. A zero tolerance approach to failure leads to things like two-thirds of IT dollars being spent to maintain outdated, unsafe, existing infrastructure. It also leads to the Inspector General community having an outsized role in IT management, one that was never envisioned for their operation. While civilian agencies likely cannot match the DOD program’s scale, this does not mean that they shouldn’t try on a scale that does make sense for them. Risk should not be a four letter, potential career-ending, word.