Event Summary: Top Takeaways from White Paper Discussion Panel
On August 7th, TandemNSI assembled a varied and respected panel of experts in national security and business to discuss some of the concepts raised in Jonathan Aberman’s recent White Paper titled: Building a Bigger Tent for Technology Innovators: The Government is More Creative than You Think. On the panel was Fernand Lavalle a partner at Jones Day, and a specialist in government contracting; Mike Daniels one of the founders of SAIC, and Chairman of Network Solutions, Global Logic and Invincea, among others; Michael Geertsen, a program manager at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Dan Doney, Chief Innovation Officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Here are our top 7 takeaways from the discussion:
- “Non-traditional performers” (Geertsen’s tongue-in-cheek definition of a non-traditional performer is a company that hasn’t been to FedBizOps) defined by the panel more broadly as individuals and companies that aren’t currently working with the federal government, are innovating at a faster rate than the innovation rate prevailing in many agencies involved in national security. This is a mismatch that is getting worse, not better. And, nontraditional performers have much to contribute to national and economic security.
Fundamental reforms are needed to ensure that the government is able to continue to innovate. Making connections with nontraditional performers who have ideas that government doesn’t know it needs is a problem that national security agencies must solve in order to be on the right side of disruption. DIA’s NeedipeDIA and the CyberFastTrack Program are examples of experiments to address this challenge.
- Geertson says Aberman’s White Paper does a great job of collecting a bunch of different programs that the agencies could use to solve this problem of innovation mismatch.
- What works in Silicon Valley won’t work here because their approaches are insufficient to truly interact with the agencies. DC entrepreneurs “speak national security.” The issue is to create pathways to get those entrepreneurs more involved in making national security products instead of providing techology services. Dan Doney noted that it is going to be a long slog to accomplish this change, but it is imperative.
Daniels said that sequestration was a game changer that may be creating a new pattern of national security budgeting and funding. This was the result of a confluence that has been building over the last 25 years. The DC region’s government contracting companies will need to adopt to these new realities, and work with innnovative startups and entrepreneurs more closely. This is a big opportunity for our region, but one that needs to be met.
- Many of the things that have made our economy grow over the last 50 years have now been commoditized. We need to get federal R&D out into the world and commercialize new industrial opportunities. This is where the jobs will come from to support a continuation of the “American Dream.”
- Doney says that TandemNSI has convened resources and raised awareness of opportunities within the national security establishment. He is creating a new program to reach nontraditional performers that will be structured with tools he learned about through TandemNSI and Aberman’s White Paper. TandemNSI is making a huge difference, and more and more people in the agencies were paying attention. Aberman was clearly thrilled to hear this endorsement and promised to events that connect people and agencies as long as our community keeps coming!
Upcoming TandemNSI events:
Keep an eye open for more details of our fall schedule. It’s going to be great. September 17th Coffee and Donuts at AED’s offices at 1100 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22201 and September 25th Robotics evening at Tech Shop. With more to come. Have a great rest of the summer!
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