Alan Shaffer: Defense Regulations Not Hindrances to Innovation

Alan Shaffer
Alan Shaffer

A top Defense Department official says vendors looking to secure government contracts should view the current system as presenting more opportunities to them than hindrances as agencies seek to drive innovation, Breaking Defense reported Friday.

Sydney Freedberg Jr. writes that some contracting and acquisitions professionals said the government should instead overcome a hesitance to use alternative tools to bring opportunities to both small businesses and agencies themselves.

“A lot of times the government person wraps themselves around the DFARS [Defense Acquisition Regulation System] and the tyranny of acquisition regulations when in fact they’re not restricted from doing something,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, told the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Thursday.

“[The] first problem with acquisition is that we only get what we know to ask for. The second problem we have with acquisition is it’s hard to ask,” said Dan Doney, chief innovation officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Doney referred to many “innovative” companies “non-traditional performers” that have no federal contracting experience.

He pointed to the NeedipeDIA website, technology brokerage and a rapid-contracting mechanism as measures that DIA is using or exploring to help bring innovation to actual signed contracts.

Freedberg reports that Doney and Mike Geertsen, a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, agree that the government must reform the acquisition road map and leverage advances in technology to communicate and coordinate projects to boost innovation.

“If we as a government cannot tap into that.. we’re going to be on the wrong side of disruption,” Doney said.

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