It only takes one word to explain why the Defense Department is so keen on Silicon Valley: innovation.
“Innovation is truly a national security imperative,” Claire Grady, DOD’s director of defense procurement and acquisition policy, said this week at the ACT-IAC Acquisition Excellence event in Washington.
DOD will account for some $274 billion in spending this year, Grady said, with $154 billion toward services – some of which she said were duplicative and likely could have had better outcomes.
Despite the largest budget of any government agency, DOD still struggles to modernize its aging technology infrastructure while simultaneously prepping for a new era of connectivity often called the Internet of Things.
Prior to Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s first visit to Silicon Valley in 2015, a Pentagon chief hadn’t stopped by the valley for 20 years. If the quest for innovation could hold the keys to DOD’s most important technological riddles, its top officials have now made three visits to the West Coast tech hub and set up shop.
“We at DOD tend to keep things longer than anybody would,” Grady said. “How do we keep them current to meet emerging threats? We really need to take advantage of emerging technologies.”