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Closer Collaboration With Industry Encouraged

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AUSA
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Army wants to be a better partner with the defense industry, isn’t opposed to them making a profit and doesn’t mind guarding their intellectual property, the assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology said in a keynote speech at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Ala.

Bruce Jette, who became the Army’s acquisition chief in December, said Army leaders “recognize the need to collaborate closely with industry partners” and are making efforts to have closer relations. An example, he said, is Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, a former Raytheon executive, who “wants us to reach out to industry, and he meets at least once a week with industry.”

In the past, talking with industry has raised ethical concerns, but Jette said this doesn’t have to be a problem. “As long as we understand there is a difference between talking and contracting, we are good,” he said, adding industry also needs to understand that a senior Army official describing something as “good doesn’t mean there is a contract.”

Jette said the Army is supportive of industry making a profit and of holding onto intellectual property. About profit, Jette said the current Defense Department structure has an incentive for companies to have long contracts to secure profit. He’d like that to change. “I’m very open to look at how we can improve your profit as long as you can improve my deliverables,” he said.

Jette said he supports the idea of companies holding onto their intellectual property, but protection might require changes in law and regulation. His view is, “If I pay for it, I own it. If you pay for it, you own it.”