During a question-and-answer period at an Institute of Land Warfare Contemporary Military Forum on how the government and industry can balance their essential perspectives and priorities, held during the 2015 AUSA Annual Meeting, representatives of both sides of the equation acknowledged their unique differences while agreeing on various solutions to most efficiently address the best interests of both.
Panel moderator Mary J. Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (research and technology), fielded questions to lead speaker Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army (acquisition, logistics and technology); Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, commanding general, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; and industry representatives Pierre Chao, Dana A. Mehnert, Marshall Davidson and Mike Jones.
"We’re canvassing innovation across the board," said Shyu, who has brought a carreer in industry to her current position, which she has held for five years.
Adding, "I think the government ought to tackle how to streamline testing to the benefit of both the developer and the government."
Shyu emphasized the necessity of government acquisition reform. "We’re trying to simplify Army acquisition strategy," she said. "What we have now just grows the bureaucracy."
Wharton emphasized the partnership with both industry and academia as a method that the Army is already making use of.
He noted, however, that the Army faces myriad challenges stemming from a landscape of "multiple [military] adversaries, multiple [strategic] dilemmas and multiple partners with differing capabilities."
"It’s a matter of changing the business model," Chao offered.
Adding, "The market is evolving to the marriage of complexities of civilian market and the Department of Defense. . . . A cultural exchange is necessary for how DoD works with industry."
"We have to provide interoperability," said Mehnert. He called for DoD’s making use of industry’s testing so that duplication doesn’t drive up costs and consume time.
Crucial to the process of balancing priorities in the most efficient manner, according to Davidson, is trust.
"The question," he said, is, "how to maintain an atmosphere of trust."