The Defense Innovation Board – a federal advisory committee encompassing experts in academia, technology and business – approved two recommendations today aimed at improving innovation in the Defense Department.
The board, chaired by Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., met in a closed session at the Pentagon, and then in a public session in a separate location in Arlington, Virginia.
In the open meeting, the board approved recommendations for DoD to create a new innovation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or I-STEM, career field and to establish a technology and innovation training program for the department’s senior leaders.
Future Warfighting Requires Innovation, STEM
Creating a pathway in the innovation and STEM fields is crucial if DoD wants to retain individuals with those in-demand skills, Marne Levine, the chief operating officer of Instagram, explained.
“We all know that the character of warfare is changing rapidly and the wars of the future will require a workforce equipped with innovation and STEM skill sets,” she said, noting that includes traditional STEM fields as well as areas such as data science and rapid capability development and acquisition.
Board members decided not to vote on two recommendations today, saying further discussions were needed on those topics. Those items were for the department to design a DoD fast-track for major technology initiatives and to incubate and execute new ideas from the field.
Defense Experts Discuss Innovation
In the open session, members heard from experts who provided analysis related to innovation activities with DoD. Members of the public also had time to address the board.
During the closed portion, defense officials addressed the board about innovation activities to build workforce innovation capacity, promote and optimize operational practices for speed and agility, and leverage advances in technology.
The board, which meets quarterly, holds its next meeting in April.
Mission to Provide Independent Advice
The Defense Innovation Board launched in April 2016 with a two-year, renewable mandate. The board, which currently has 13 members, is authorized to have up to 20 members.
The panel has previously approved a dozen recommendations.
The board’s mission is to examine and provide the secretary of defense and the deputy secretary of defense independent advice and recommendations on innovative means to address future challenges in terms of integrated change to organizational structure and processes, business and functional concepts, and technology applications.
In addition to Schmidt and Levine, current board members are Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton School of Business; W. Daniel Hillis, computer theorist and co-founder of Applied Inventions; Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and partner in Greylock Partners; Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute; Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute; J. Michael McQuade, senior vice president for science and technology at United Technologies Corp.; Richard Murray, professor at California Institute of Technology; Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America; retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas System; Milo Medin, vice president for access services for Google Capital; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)