DOD sets up oversight board for overhauled innovation center

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The Pentagon’s controversial Silicon Valley-based innovation center will get new oversight from an internal governance board called the Technology Review Group under a directive approved this week by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

The 11-page directive, part of an expansion and overhaul announced earlier this year by Carter, also provides formal details of the structure and authorities of the management of the center, formally dubbed the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx. 

The Technology Review Group will be selected and chaired by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, the directive states. Its members — some full-fledged, some specialist — will be government or military personnel. Fully fledged or “permanent” members will attend all the group’s meetings; specialist or “associate” members will attend “when matters under their responsibility are addressed,” according to the directive.

The group will review projects proposed by DIUx and ensure the center’s activities are “fully coordinated” with other DOD components, especially the services and relevant Pentagon agencies.

[Read more: Ash Carter launches DIUx 2.0]

The overhaul of DIUx was announced by Carter during his fourth trip to the Silicon Valley in May. 

It was a response to lawmakers’ concerns, tabulated in the House version of the annual DOD authorization bill, that DIUx was too heavily focused on partnering with innovators in a single region, highlighting geography as the problem, and ignoring or downplaying other barriers limiting DOD innovation, like long decision cycles. 

[Read more: House defense bill defunds DIUx, drawing veto threat]

Among other changes in May, Carter announced the standup of a Boston office for the center and new leadership. Out went DIUx head George Duchak, replaced by Raj Shah — a former executive at Palo Alto Networks, special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and F-16 pilot in the Air Force.

Shah was dubbed DIUx’s managing partner, and the new directive gives additional details about the role, formally laying out exactly what its responsibilities and authorities are in relation to other DOD components, said Loren DeJonge Schulman, a scholar at the Center for a New American Security.

“This formality has pluses and minuses,” she added,”firmly outlining where DIUx fits in the bureaucracy but potentially giving it less free rein as a free agent.”

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Acquisition, Ashton Carter, DIU (formerly DIUx), Government IT News, Innovation
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