Defense

Pentagon's Silicon Valley unit gets $1.75M for fiscal 2015

Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

The Defense Department’s first fulltime outreach office in Silicon Valley is up and running thanks to a July 2 memo from Deputy Secretary Robert Work directing $1.75 million to the office in fiscal 2015 and $5 million for 2016 to 2019.

The office, dubbed Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX), will be staffed by a Senior Executive Service official, plus a handful of reserve officers and civilian employees, among others. The SES position could pay up to $183,000 in salary according to a USAJobs notice. The application period closed in late May, but the successful candidate will be expected to cultivate relationships with local tech gurus and small businesses, broaden the Pentagon’s access to technologies for use beyond the intelligence community, and serve as a broker between acquisition officials and tech executives, according to the notice.

“While the Department is beginning to focus on innovation in the commercial technology sector, a more concerted effort is needed,” Work wrote in the memo. DIUX’s mission will be “to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones; scout for breakthrough and emerging technologies; and function as a local interface node for the Department.”

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the office on his April trip to Silicon Valley in the hopes of tearing down what some say is a bureaucratic wall standing between the Pentagon and startups. The Air Force shortly thereafter revealed it is setting up its own outreach office in the Valley.

Carter is traveling July 9 to Sun Valley, Idaho, to speak to a conference on the “importance of a strong partnership between private sector innovators and government,” according to a Pentagon statement.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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