With director Michael Brown leaving the federal government, the Defense Innovation Unit at the Department of Defense is looking for a “thought leader” in defense technology transition to replace him.
The DIU, housed within DoD, is charged with keeping the U.S. military on the cutting edge of commercial technology and cybersecurity. The organization is headquartered not in Washington, but Silicon Valley, and its primary mission involves working with nascent startups and other companies on new or innovative forms of technology and acclimating them to the byzantine rules and regulations of doing business with the federal government.
“The Director will have demonstrated success working with a wide range of stakeholders [including] Congress, Military Departments, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” the organization said in a job notice posted this week. “These skill sets will provide them the tools needed to help the DoD work with the private sector to innovate and adopt new technology.”
Not surprisingly, the organization is looking for candidates with both “extensive” industry and private sector backgrounds developing innovative new technologies as well as some experience navigating the Pentagon’s procurement and acquisition process around science and technology and the larger federal bureaucracy. Brown, a former Symantec CEO who has worked on innovation and venture capital issues for the White House and DoD, is a model for the kind of background the agency is seeking.
“Mike has had a tremendous impact on technology adoption and development these past four years,” Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, said in a statement. “Under his tenure, barriers to entry for commercial companies have been lowered and numerous key technologies have been deployed to the warfighter. I am sure that wherever he next goes, he will be very successful. Our new Director will certainly have very large shoes to fill.”
The position comes with a five-year term (with an option for a sixth year) and requires a TS/SCI security clearance and is eligible for telework. With a hand in both commercial innovation and government procurement, it will also require annual financial disclosures.
The DIU has pushed out a slate of cybersecurity-related projects over the last year. Patrick Gould, deputy director of the DIU’s cyber portfolio, told SC Media in an interview that U.S. Cyber Command and NSA “have essentially been the main and the lead customer” of projects under his purview. Because of that, many are designed to align with the broader strategic objectives laid out by Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads both agencies.
“Persistent engagement, persistent presence, persistent innovation, the mission sets like hunt forward and incident response…engaging with adversaries in order to impose cost and risk on them in cyberspace, that has always been front of mind in terms of what types of projects DIU should take on,” Gould said in March.
But other agencies have been able to tap the approximately 200-person strong organization for new security capabilities as well, including a $633,000 prototype software for asset inventory management developed by IntelliPeak Solutions for the Defense Information Systems Agency, and a $679,000 prototype platform developed by CounterCraft for the Air Force that creates sophisticated deception environments to detect malicious cyber activity and has already been tested in military wargames with national and NATO-level red teams.