news | 26 April 2023

Speed and Space: Defense Innovation Unit Leaders Address Key Topics at Sea Air Space 2023

Cherissa Tamayori, Director of Acquisitions at Defense Innovation Unit.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (April 25, 2023)—Joining U.S. military and defense industry experts from around the globe at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference earlier this month, leaders from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) participated in key panel discussions focusing on both acquisition innovation, as well as the future of warfighting and industrial space systems.

Talking innovation and adoption in procurement strategies, particularly by leveraging commercial partners, Cherissa Tamayori, Director of Acquisitions, participated in the ‘Speed of Acquisition’ session.

“There are a lot of innovation activities across the DoD, and what really sets our organization apart is our use of flexible acquisition authorities - and  our deep understanding and integration into tech ecosystems,” said Tamayori.

While tackling the question of DoD adoption of non-traditional forms of contracting, Tamayori noted there has been a shift. Across the Department there has been an increase in the use of these tools. This includes the use of other transaction authorities, or OTAs, and the use of the Commercial Solutions Opening - a competitive process that DIU created to solicit and evaluate innovative commercial technologies. 

“While there has been an increase in the use of these non-traditional forms of contracting, there is still room for improvement, said Tamayori. “At DIU, we want  to scale our process through partnerships with the PEOs and major buying commands. We recognize that production matters, both to the companies we work with and the Department; and partnering with program offices to introduce available commercial market technology to solve their problem sets is really where we can start making an impact on a much larger scale.”

Tamayori was joined on the panel by U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Douglas Schofield, Assistant Commandant for Acquisitions & Chief Acquisitions Officer; Ms. Melinda Simmons-Healy, MARAD, Deputy Director, Office of Ship Operations, Fleet Program Managemen; and Mr. Raanan Horowitz, CEO, Elbit America.

Steven "Bucky" Butow, DIU Space Portfolio Director

Separately, Steven Butow, Director, Space Portfolio participated in a panel on ‘The 5th Warfighting Domain’ focusing on  space strategies to defend and protect military, civil and industrial systems. Butow was joined by U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, N2/N6, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations/Director of Naval Intelligence; Dr. Derek Tournear, Space Development Agency (SDA), Executive Director; and Mr. Ed Zoiss, President, Space & Airborne Systems, L3Harris Technologies.

“DIU is well positioned to help the services tap into the growing numbers of commercial satellites at commercial cost curves,” said Butow. 

Ultimately, there is a growing dependency on space capabilities for maritime missions and the Navy will depend upon proliferated satellites for communications and connectivity. In response to this demand, Butow added, there is a need for standardization and controls to help deconflict the growing number of objects that will be put in orbit in the coming years, similar to the Federal Aviation Administration and its air traffic control model.

Continuing conversations like this panel, leaders and industry experts are set to gather at the annual State of the Space Industrial Base (SSIB) 2023  workshops and conferences to provide inputs and recommendations to nurture and grow a healthy space industrial base and national security innovation base. Learn more about upcoming SSIB conferences here.