C4ISRNET (April 24, 2021)
By Matthew T. Cornelius, Executive Director, Alliance for Digital Innovation
The American military is entering an era of great power competition, where agility and quick adaptation matters more than ever. For too long, emerging capabilities failed to bridge the valley of death and get integrated into Department of Defense programs of record. In recent years, the DoD has launched groups aiming to change the tech insertion reality, such as the Defense Innovation Unit, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and Army Futures Command, which accelerate adoption of innovative technologies across the department.
Even so, disruptive innovation in the commercial sector still struggles to enter the federal market, including at the Pentagon. The recent trend toward the defense industrial base consolidating down to a handful of large system integrators tuned toward winning contracts that require custom-developed solutions must cease. Their hold on DoD means innovative software startups and small businesses find the federal government market increasingly complicated, lacking transparency and fraught with misaligned incentives, which further supports the incumbents.