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Video Interview: DIU’s Mike Madsen on Acquisition Reform, Fast-Growing Tech Areas & More

By the time a new technology is funded, developed, prototyped, tested, produced and finally put in the hands of our warfighters, it’s often already outdated, as the federal government’s acquisition processes can take years to get through.

The Defense Innovation Unit is on a mission to drastically speed up the Department of Defense’s acquisition cycles, especially in light of evolving threats and the growing global competition for technological dominance.

Executive Mosaic spoke with DIU’s Acting Director Mike Madsen in an exclusive video interview to find out more about how the innovation engine aims to improve the defense acquisition model, bridge the valley of death and ultimately transition more new technologies out onto the battlefield more quickly than ever.

Hear Mike Madsen and other DOD decision makers speak in person at the Potomac Officers Club’s 9th Annual Defense R&D Summit on March 23! Registration is still open — click here to save your spot. 

In the DIU’s annual report for fiscal year 2022, the organization achieved a new high of 17 total commercial technology transitions to DOD users, representing a total of $1.3 billion in contract ceiling value.

“One of the other great things that has happened in FY22 is that not only are we looking to scale across the department, the services and platforms, but we’re also looking to leverage the entire economic buying power of the executive branch,” said Madsen, a previous Wash100 Award winner, as he mentioned DIU is now working with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard, among other agencies.

“It’s really been a success as we look to scale not just across the department but across the executive branch.”

Madsen shared that as DIU continues to hit new targets and break new records, the organization is not resting on its laurels. As acting director, Madsen continues to “move the goalpost” of success. He shared that DIU started with a focus on tech discovery and then moved to a focus on transitioning those technologies, and then most recently the organization honed its focus on the adoption of those technologies.

Simultaneously, Madsen said there needs to be acquisition reform that can support these goals, reflect the urgency behind innovation and reimagine the process for the modern era.

“Our goal is 60 to 90 days for a prototype contract award,” Madsen shared. “We’re running about 140 days right now and looking to bring on some more resources. But still 140 days is light-years ahead of some traditional contracting.”

Watch Madsen talk about DIU’s fastest-growing tech focus areas, what the U.S. needs to be doing to outpace today’s global competitors and more — view the full video here.

Madsen is one of many elite government and industry speakers participating in POC’s 9th Annual Research and Development Summit tomorrow, March 23. Don’t miss your chance to hear from leaders like Madsen and Heidi Shyu in person! Register here.

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