Defense and Industry Narrow Communication Gap
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 As a cost- and time-saving measure, Defense Department officials have developed an experimental website to help government and industry stay up-to-date on developing projects that support the warfighter.
The new site, Defense Innovation Marketplace, is part of the Defense Department’s Better Buying Power initiative to save DOD money, said Jack Blackhurst, a “customer” of DOD, and director of the Human Effectiveness Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Customers from all branches of the military and small-business owners can access the site to see what the government is looking for. A special feature was also developed for those interested in “human systems.”
“A human system is anything to do with performance of humans in a particular job -- airplane operator, submarine operator, soldier on [the] ground -- all humans who operate weapons systems,” Blackhurst said.
Human systems ensure warfighters have the best equipment to do their jobs and improve performance, he said.
“It’s about a human being interacting with the weapons system,” Blackhurst said. “Unlike a conventional weapon that an airplane drops, the focus is on the pilot in the cockpit.”
The website is the only forum that increases communication among government, industry and academia, he said. The site, which is expected to save time and money, allows interested parties to learn about projects in development and what capabilities the government wants, he added.
“On the government’s part, it gives us a vehicle to put our information out, and at the same time, it allows industry to put their information out in terms of where they’re investing their dollars in a particular technology area,” Blackhurst said. “It gives us an excellent tool to search these capabilities.”
Industry and academic institutions now have the ability to “know what’s going on out there and then strategize for the government,” he noted.
By first becoming familiar with information on the site, the marketplace can eliminate some conferences. Once they know about particular projects, people from DOD, industry and academia can meet later in a conference to talk specifics, saving time and money, according to Blackhurst.
“There’s a wealth of information that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” he said.
The site stems from communication issues between industry and DOD, said Ron Kurjanowicz, senior adviser to the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering.
“We made the Defense Innovation Marketplace no more complicated than a one-stop shop where industry could find information about the investment priorities for DOD,” Kurjanowicz said.
Feedback has been positive from industry officials,” he said, adding that the site is updated nearly every day.
“It’s important in this climate of change that we talk about Better Buying Power to reduce costs in our acquisition program and activities, and this site presents that opportunity. We’re out of Iraq and getting out of Afghanistan, so new capabilities will be needed in the future,” Kurjanowicz said.
“Industry needs to know where DOD is making its changes, so they can align their investments with the capabilities of the future. The marketplace is one of those places to keep them connected,” he said.
Kurjanowicz said the site makes doing business more effective and efficient, and that the government will see “enormous payoffs in how it strategically places its investment, [in addition to] leveraging industries’ projects.”
As a result, taxpayers also benefit, he said.
Industry’s payoff, Kurjanowicz said, lies in knowing where DOD is going on its projects, he said.
“We want to do things smarter, and we think this is an opportunity to do that,” he added.