Goodbye, Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental. Hello, Defense Innovation Unit.
The Pentagon’s innovative acquisition team, DIUx, has been made a permanent part of the Defense Department and henceforth it will be known as DIU, dropping the “experimental” designation from its name, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced in an Aug. 3 memo.
Shanahan called DIU “a proven, valuable asset to the DoD.”
“Removing ‘experimental’ reflects DIU’s permanence within the DoD. Though DIU will continue to experiment with new ways of delivering capability to the warfighter, the organization itself is no longer an experiment,” he wrote. “DIU remains vital to fostering innovation across the Department and transforming the way DoD builds a more lethal force.”
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter launched the then-DIUx more than three years ago as part of a highly publicized partnership with Silicon Valley.
Since then, there’s been a bit of a learning curve for the organization — its first iteration received heavy criticism from Congress, and Carter himself admitted that “we weren’t as agile as the people we wanted to connect to want to be.”
In the second iteration of the experiment, Carter gave DIUx a more nationwide outlook, pivoting from a hyperfocus on Silicon Valley and changing the agency’s leadership. That seems to have set the organization down the successful path that led it here today. It now has branches in Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin and Washington, D.C. In addition to helping defense agencies and military branches more rapidly acquire innovative tech, the team has also made itself a valuable resource in training DOD acquisition professionals how to do so on their own.
When DOD Secretary Jim Mattis took over the Pentagon, he met DIUx with excitement for its future.
“There is no doubt in my mind that DIUx will not only continue to exist, it will actually — it will grow in its influence and its impact on the Department of Defense,” Mattis said in a press conference.