Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan: JAIC Needs Own Procurement Authority to Speed Up Contracting Process

Jack Shanahan
Jack Shanahan

Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and a 2020 Wash100 Award winner, said he believes JAIC needs to have its own acquisition authorities within the next two years to expedite the process of awarding contracts and delivering AI tools across the military, FedScoop reported Thursday.

Shanahan said Thursday during an AFCEA virtual event that having procurement authorities would allow JAIC to provide a level playing field for nontraditional tech contractors and small businesses when it comes to securing contracts. “Everybody is an equal player,” he added.

He hinted that JAIC will soon issue more requests for information as the center works to ramp up its collaboration with industry on various AI initiatives. JAIC currently awards contracts through agencies that have their own acquisition authorities, including the Defense Innovation Unit and the General Services Administration.

A spokesperson told the publication that Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, supports Shanahan’s call. “As the focal point for AI and despite the young age of the JAIC, Chairman Smith supports the need for JAIC to have the appropriate authorities to ensure they are able to acquire technologies rapidly, without the stunting layers of bureaucracy,” the spokesperson said.

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