Pentagon official quits: ‘World’s largest bureaucracy’ has lost tech edge

by WorldTribune Staff, April 27, 2022

The Pentagon’s refusal to take on tests that might fail have caused the “world’s largest bureaucracy” to lose its technological edge, the official responsible for driving technological innovation at the Department of Defense said as he resigned his post.

Preston Dunlap / U.S. Air Force photo

“By the time the Government manages to produce something, it’s too often obsolete,” Preston Dunlap said in a nine-page resignation statement which he made public on LinkedIn. “Much more must be done if DoD is going to regrow its thinning technological edge.”

“Structural change” is needed at the Pentagon, which Dunlap said in an interview with Bloomberg should behave more like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

“We’re falling behind the commercial base in key areas, so we’ve got to catch up,” Dunlap, the first person in the Department of Defense to fulfill the role of chief architect officer, told Bloomberg News.

The infighting must stop, Dunlap said, adding that Pentagon minds need to work together, tap the private sector, defend the country, and compete with China.

The Pentagon has fallen behind the domestic commercial sector in data, distributed computer processing, software, AI and cybersecurity, he said.

In order to emulate SpaceX and other innovative companies, Dunlap said, the government must become braver about undertaking tests that might initially fail, spanning hypersonics to artificial intelligence algorithms.

“We should never be satisfied,” Dunlap said in his resignation letter. “We need this kind of progress at scale now, not tomorrow. So let’s be careful to not…

• “Lull ourselves into complacency, when we should be running on all cylinders.
• “Do things the same way, when we should be doing things better.
• “Distract ourselves with process, when we should be focused on delivering product.
• “Compete with each other, when we should be competing with China.
• “Defend our turf, when we should be defending our country.
• “Focus on input metrics, when we should be focused on output metrics.
• “Buy the same things, when we should be investing in what we need.
• “Be comfortable with the way things are, when we should be fighting for the way things should be.”

Dunlap noted in his resignation statement: “Ironically as I’m writing this, I received notification that the phone lines are down at the Pentagon IT help desk. Phone lines are down? It’s 2022, folks.”

Dunlap said he plans to start a space software company focused on the nexus with satellites, data and artificial intelligence.

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