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DoD Encourages Industry Engagement

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Department of Defense
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

While reminding everyone that there are legal and ethical limitations in dealing with companies seeking to do business with the government, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan also says in a March 2 memorandum there is much to gain by talking to industry.

The Defense Department “relies upon thousands of contractors spanning a wide array of industry segments and supporting a multitude of mission requirements,” he writes. “Industry is often the best source of information concerning market conditions and technological capabilities. This information is crucial to determining whether and how industry can support the department’s mission and goals.”

Talking with industry isn’t just OK. It should be required, Shanahan writes. “Conducting effective, responsible and efficient procurement of supplies and services while properly managing the resultant contracts requires department personnel to engage in early, frequent and clear communications with suppliers,” he said. “Proactive engagement will maximize support to the warfighter, set realistic expectations and technologically achievable requirements, enhance the ability to organizations to meet cost, schedule and performance objectives, and establish policies and business practices that promote the long-term viability and competitiveness of the industrial bases supporting defense.”

“Our National Defense Strategy directs our intentional engagement with industry to harness and protect the National Security Innovation Base as we modernize our capabilities,” Shanahan writes. “Cultivating a competitive mindset requires that we optimize our relationships with industry to drive higher performance.”

Complying with ethical and legal limits “should not” cause defense and service officials to be reluctant to engage industry, he says. “The department’s policy continues to be that representatives at all levels of the department have frequent, fair, even and transparent dialogue with industry on matters of mutual interest, as appropriate, in a manner that protects sensitive information, operations, sources, methods and technologies,” Shanahan writes, urging leaders to encourage industry engagement.

To read Shanahan’s memo, click here: