Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Lowering Barriers to Innovation , January 18, , 2024

January 18, 2024

Download PDF

To advise the Department of Defense on how to expedite innovation at scale, this Defense Innovation Board (DIB) study focused on removing internal barriers to innovation in the Department. The study identifies seven broad domains that reach across aspects of security, acquisition, information technology, and human capital. These seven domains encapsulate 13 different internal barriers hindering innovation, and present 17 specific, actionable recommendations to each barrier to facilitate, adopt, and scale innovation across the Department.

A key, overarching recommendation resulting from this study is the need for the Secretary of Defense to reinforce that all leaders are responsible and accountable for innovation across the Department. The status quo will persist unless there is a shift towards a culture of innovation and risk-taking, driven by empowered senior leadership. All leaders must transform processes and procedures under their command to make them faster, easier, more useful, and more inclusive of the entire ecosystem (both inside and outside government) to which they are responsible.

The study finds that the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) has the potential to become a force-multiplier. This would be achieved by granting the Director the necessary authorities to modernize personnel clearance management, collaborate with agencies that have overlapping responsibilities, and update outdated regulations to account for the current threat climate and the needs of the defense security enterprise. In order to support the rapidly changing innovation landscape, authorities to operate need to be reciprocal. However, the current practice of issuing requests for proposals hampers agility, creates a misalignment between needs and incentives, reduces the capacity of services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to support the warfighter, and increases risk to the Department of Defense. Moreover, the Department is not currently a preferred business partner and must standardize its bidding practices to align them with industry standards. This includes adopting industry established pitch practices, and maximizing the visibility of existing contracts to mitigate redundancies to curtail unnecessary administrative burdens, especially for vendors. In addition, the lack of centralized management in enterprise licensing prevents the creation of a competitive environment and hinders the delivery of the best value to the Department, agencies, and services. Finally, inadequate market research and under-utilization of innovation organizations for discovering existing technology that meets warfighter needs, leads to further redundancies, inefficient acquisition processes, and requires an expanded implementation of dual-use technology combined with cross-functional teams, earlier in the capability development cycle.

This study reflects months of research, however, it is neither exhaustive nor a panacea to the full scope of internal innovation barriers impeding the Department. Moreover, this study was developed through the insights and expertise of the DIB members and consultants, the triangulation of academic research, industry practices, and targeted Department engagements. It presents actions that can be taken immediately, warrant NDAA inclusion, and will scale innovation across the Department.

Authors - Defense Innovation Board



Defense Innovation Board


PDF - Download

Related Resources