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FCW : March 30, 2016
March 30, 2016 FCW.COM 27 United States’ eroding technical advantage at the hands of China and Russia. DOD also announced March 2 that it would invite “vet- ted” hackers to test the department’s cybersecurity through a pilot program known as Hack the Pentagon. “The pilot marks the first in a series of programs designed to test and find vulnerabilities in the department’s applications, websites and networks,” Cook said. Transforming ‘Dilbertville’ DIUX sits on the edge of Moffett Federal Airfield and is down the road from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. The place has an unassuming feel to it. A gymnasium and a cavernous auditorium host networking events in which DIUX tries to pair startups with DOD mission needs. George Duchak, former director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate, is in charge of delivering on the lofty goals Carter has set for DIUX. When he inherited the office several months ago, Duchak said, it “looked like Dilbertville,” a suffocating jumble of cubicles. Now, the open office he shares with his cadre of technol- ogy scouts features long whiteboards covered with notes and standing desks, a conscious effort to cultivate the air of a startup. Duchak conceded that DIUX is not a fit for every firm in the valley. There are particular challenges to navigating the federal acquisition process, which Kendall, undersec- retary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, is trying to make less convoluted for smaller companies. In some ways, therefore, the fate of DIUX is tied to the fate of acquisition reform. Nonetheless, Duchak and his colleagues aren’t waiting for the legislative process in Washington to churn before trying to get new technologies into the hands of warfight- ers. Those warfighters deal with the here and now of real- world threats, while the entrepreneurs Duchak is targeting are thinking about futuristic scenarios years down the road. He said bridging those two paradigms is what he came here to do. Alongside Duchak was Col. Steve “Bucky” Butow, the lead National Guard official at DIUX. Butow was quick to smile and eager to dive into the thorny challenges facing the outpost. Innovation is not a tangible thing you can set requirements for in DOD programs, he said. One of the many maxims on innovation one hears is that startups have to be willing to fail and fail quickly. The Pentagon is trying to embrace that ethos, but for Duchak, it comes with a caveat. “The only time it makes sense to fail fast is if you learn from it,” he said. Companies like Uber and Apple have shaken up their industries through their business models and not necessarily their technology, Duchak added. That is exactly what he wants DOD to do. n “The only time it makes sense to fail fast is if you learn from it,” DIUX’s George Duchak said, adding that companies like Uber and Apple have shaken up their industries through their business models and not necessarily their technology. 0330fcw_025-027.indd 27 3/8/16 9:43 AM
March 15, 2016
April 15, 2016