Katrina McFarland: Army Seeks More R&D Dialogue With Industry

$headshot mcfarland_katrina_smallThe U.S. Army is looking at how contractors spend government-issued funds for research-and-development programs in order to better understand where industry focuses its R&D efforts, the branch’s lead acquisition executive said Wednesday.

Katrina McFarland told an audience at a Potomac Officers Club-hosted event in Falls Church, Virginia the Army’s closer examination of R&D spending at agencies is part of a larger military-wide effort to examine technology-related trends in the commercial arena for potential application in the armed forces rather than determine how that money is spent by recipients.

“We want to understand how industry spends that money allocated and approved by the government to see how things fit inside our future, ” McFarland said.

“We believe in the independence of (internal R&D) and want to preserve that integrity. It allows us to have a dialogue and help us see things for better opportunities with us”

McFarland was appointed in February as acting assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics for the Army.

She also told the POC audience of government contracting and federal executives that the Army’s top uniformed officers including the chief of staff have started to take an increased interest in the service branch’s acquisitions alongside civilian leaders.

Information technology is one area both uniformed and civilian acquisition officials at the Army are examining closer too but IT will require a different set of understandings and assumptions compared to other platforms,  McFarland said.

“If you can’t see it and can’t touch it its hard to see how mature it is. We’re reliant and dependent on IT but don’t understand it the same way we do a car, truck, ship or plane.”

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