Second DIUx site adds new rung of leadership

The Defense Department’s Silicon Valley innovation hub officially gained an East Coast brother earlier this week.

DoD released a July 5 directive creating a new “point of presence” Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which sheds some light on how DoD will be handling the two campuses.

The move further entrenches a department policy that has come under fire from lawmakers recently.

DIUx was created last August as a means for DoD to partner with tech industries and harvest forward thinking ideas.

DoD announced previously that the new DIUx campus will be in Boston. The directive gives some insight as to how DIUx will operate with two campuses.

“DIUx will be managed by a partnership-style leadership team. It will consist of one Managing Partner, who will exercise supervisory authority over the DIUx, and a small number of other partners chosen for their expertise in technology, strategy, business, and management,” the directive stated.

The managing partner will be appointed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The partners will be appointed by the managing partner with Carter’s approval.

The managing partner will oversee operations at all DIUx branches and makes decisions on hiring, acquisition and research and development.

The partner will have the authority to communicate directly with DoD officials and DoD component heads, as well as members of the public and representatives of foreign governments.

The directive also creates a DIUx Technology Review Group, made up of full-time or permanent part-time government employees or military members. The board will assess to progress of DIUX and provide guidance to leadership, and also make sure DIUx is coordinated with DoD and military goals.

DIUx’s leadership was overhauled just eight months after its creation.

Carter removed former head of DIUx George Duchak and replaced him with Raj Shah, co-founder of cybersecurity company Morta Security. He is joined by Isaac Taylor, former head of operations at Google’s research and development facility, along with other tech gurus.

The change in the office is “taking a page straight from the Silicon Valley playbook” by iterating rapidly to make DIUx better, Carter said during a May speech at DIUx headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

But, DIUx received criticisms from both industry and Congress.

The House version of the 2017 defense authorization bill states the House Armed Services Committee is concerned by DoD’s “pinpoint focus” on one geographic region and the dedication of significant funding at such a nascent period of the development of the organization.

“The committee is concerned that outreach is proceeding without sufficient attention being paid to breaking down the barriers that have traditionally prevented nontraditional contractors from supporting defense needs, like lengthy contracting processes and the inability to transition technologies,” the bill states.

It goes on to say DIUx may have insufficient oversight and coordination with laboratories and engineering centers.

Janice Haith, Navy’s deputy chief information officer speaking during an AFCEA event in Arlington, VA said she is seeing some value, but hasn’t seen the full range of benefits from DIUx.

The Army Deputy CIO agreed saying the potential is there, but it still has work to do. Still, DoD officials contend the program is progressing.

In an interview with Federal News Radio in February, Stephen Welby, the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering,  said DIUx was working closely with companies to show Silicon Valley that the government isn’t a quagmire of acquisition rules and regulations.

DIUx has been holding multiple events to reach out to industry.

In February, more than 200 companies came to a town hall to discuss intellectual property rights and the government acquisition system.

On May 10 Kendall said DIUx has been a success, but needed some adjustments.

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