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DOD Steps Up Support of Private-Sector Technology Innovation

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has stepped up efforts to encourage private-sector innovation and its adaptation into the federal government, a senior Pentagon official said recently.

John R. Mills, DOD chief information officer special assistant for cybersecurity, described the DOD’s outreach strategy in a panel discussion during a Security Innovation Network workshop.

“Our objective is to accelerate the intake of innovation here,” Mills said. “We have to learn to deliver the best possible national security to the American people in a world where we no longer necessarily drive technology.”

Much progress, he said, is now housed in the private sector, prompting the DOD, the services, and agencies such as the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Security Agency to create critical entry points for small-business innovators into the vast cyber constellation.

“We are totally involved in taking that in for national security, and … there are things we can share outwardly,” Mills said. “We have to operate at the speed of innovation here.”

Defense officials have many ways to identify innovation in a large environment and connect that innovation to opportunity, according to Mills. One involves the incessant pursuit of the next “cyberwave,” he said, adding that the military aims to harness the efforts of national and DOD laboratories, as well as with interagency partners.

Part of the task will be to catalog the array of outreach efforts for technology, procurement, and cyber while creating a framework within the DOD to conduct cyber pilot programs and focus on metrics.

DOD officials, Mills explained, will seek strategies from small-business owners whether their products or services are holistic or “piece part.” The Pentagon also has obtained legislative support to help with codifying ventures such as cyber pilot programs so they have meaning and definition in regulation.

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