MAY 5, 2021

Spring Kick-off of the Inaugural Acquisition Innovation Forum

On April 6-7, the Acquisition Innovation Research Center (AIRC) hosted its inaugural Acquisition Innovation Forum, an online event attended by thought leaders, researchers, and practitioners in government, academia, and industry. Centered on the theme of Digital Transformation and Acquisition, the forum provided participants an opportunity to better understand the challenges facing the defense acquisition system through thoughtful, innovative small-group discussions with researchers.

Over the two days, the forum brought together more than 110 invited delegates who will help refine digital transformation ideas and use cases for innovating government acquisition, and link technology, academic research, and government to potential projects. Attendees were split evenly between those internal to government operations—from OSD, Components and Congressional—and those outside of government, including from Academia (and representing disciplines such as Law, Business and Public Administration/Policy), Industry and FFRDCs.

Ms. Stacy A. Cummings, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (PDO), kicked off Day One of the event by providing driving goals and strategies for the day and guiding directives for the day’s breakout sessions, as well as overall directives for the diverse group of leaders.

Following Ms. Cumming’s opening, Day One continued with an engaging one-hour panel focused on Acquisition Challenges and Needs for Digital Transformation that included key Acquisition experts including Dr. Arun Seraphin, Professional Staff Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. David Cadman, OSD Acquisition Data & Analytics, Ms. Kristen Baldwin, SAF/AQR, and Mr. Andrew Hunter, CSIS. The panel was moderated by Dr. Dinesh Verma, the AIRC Executive Director, and continued with ongoing virtual discussion and inputs from attendees.

Day One concluded with a briefing on Identified Strategic Concepts and Use Cases within Digital Transformation and Acquisition delivered by AIRC Chief Scientist Phil Antón, followed by a breakout group session. Dr. Antón opened Day Two of the forum with a presentation that highlighted Research Frontiers and Success for Digital Transformation.

The outputs of the two-day event were shaped around the following strategy points: Key Defense Acquisition Challenges, Research and Pilot Approaches, and Identifying Necessary Conditions for Transitioning Research to Prototypes and Practice.

The AIRC plans for the forum to be a biannual event and will reconvene in the fall of 2021. This biannual event should reconvene again in the fall, to continue to expand input from key members of the Acquisition community, and further develop the strategy behind the AIRC.