news | 23 March 2022

The Defense Innovation Unit and the Defense Acquisition University Launch an Immersive Commercial Acquisition Training Program to Get Solutions to the DoD at the Speed of Relevance

Providing DoD civilian and military contracting officers with in-depth experience of commercial solutions opening (CSO) process.


March 28, 2022 (Mountain View, CA)—In this era of modern warfare, access to cutting-edge, commercial technology is vital for our national security. To ensure Service members have timely access to commercial technology, the Department of Defense (DoD) is promoting broader use of agile acquisition methods by training a corps of acquisition professionals on the Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU’s) acquisition process. 

Recognizing the need to keep pace with commercial product cycles and adopt commercial procurement best practices, the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and DIU have joined forces to develop and implement the Immersive Commercial Acquisition Program (ICAP). Under ICAP, DoD acquisition personnel will work on Service-aligned projects, alongside a DIU contracting officer and project team as well as commercial solution providers on a variety of projects. 

ICAP participants will also take virtual classes on Other Transaction (OT) authorities through DAU’s Defense Acquisition Credentials program.

“Acquisition professionals, especially those in contracting, work in an increasingly complex environment,” said Jim Woolsey, DAU President. “Creating opportunities like this where they can develop specialized skills and gain experience that they take back and share with others is one of the great strengths of this program.”

Up to six contracting officers will be competitively selected from across the DoD civilian and military communities to take part in the twelve-month immersive program. Set to launch officially in October 2022, the first ICAP cohort will receive targeted training and hands-on experience with every aspect of the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process: from the acquisition strategy to the basics of leveraging OT authorities and day-to-day project execution. ICAP participants will also get first-hand knowledge of the commercial sector. 

“To give our warfighters the best and most current technology available, DoD must embrace and leverage an acquisition process that maximizes competition and enables the Department to operate at commercial speeds,” said Mike Brown, DIU Director. “To do this, we need to train our acquisitions talent from across the Services on how to effectively transition technologies from the commercial sector into the DoD.” 

DIU focuses exclusively on accelerating commercial technology into the DoD and has made 45 solutions available in its first 6 years. DIU prototypes, transitions and scales projects in six key areas where commercial technology leads:  autonomy, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber, energy, human systems and space. These solutions ranging from small drones to commercial satellite imagery or AI software are fielded in 1-2 years leveraging DIU’s process, instead of 1-2 decades.

Following the rotation, these graduates will provide ongoing connection between DIU and their Service for future projects. As it matures, this annual program may expand to other functional acquisition career fields such as program management, finance, and legal, providing the acquisition workforce with more commercial acquisition experts that are fluent in new and different acquisition tools and methods to acquire innovative commercial technology.

Submissions are being accepted now (April 18-May 27). Learn more here.