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DARPA Director: Agency Focuses on Execution, Vision

DARPA Director Regina Dugan

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has always been at the leading edge of technology. For example, have you heard of a little thing called the Internet?

But now, the agency says it’s taking the lead in putting the focus on execution along with vision.

In testimony before the House Armed Services  subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, DARPA Director Regina Dugan said the agency has trimmed the time it takes to award a contract, overhauled its financial processes and rethought its investment decisions.

“In the last year,” she said, “our contracting time has been reduced by 20 percent and, by September, improved execution had put $600 million more to work for defense and in the economy than in any of the five years prior.”

DARPA has not exactly been hampered by slow turnaround.  Swift execution on special projects has always been a hallmark of the agency, or what Dugan called a “brand attribute” of the agency.

Even while it has been relatively free of bureaucratic buildup, the recent changes will likely help the agency continue its mission of bringing innovation to the battlefield.

For example, Dugan touted the successes of a project five years in the making, a light-detection and ranging system that provides three-dimensional mapping capabilities using light to image objects the same way a radar uses radio waves.

The system, called HALOE, can collect data 10 times faster than any other state-of-the-art system on the market and 100 times faster than conventional systems, she told the subcommittee.

“At full operational capacity, the HALOE system can map 50 percent of Afghanistan in 90 days,” she said, “whereas previous systems would have required three years.”

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