Testifying in Congress about Scaling Innovation in Government
Last month, I had the honor of testifying in Congress about accelerating and scaling innovation in the Intelligence Community (IC).
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), chair of the Strategic Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), held an open hearing to discuss challenges facing the United States Government in developing, deploying, and exploiting next-generation technologies (such as artificial intelligence) to the advantage of the national security of the United States and its allies.
Specifically, the STAR Subcommittee wanted to explore “how the Intelligence Community (IC) could better develop, deploy, and exploit next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence to the advantage of the national security of the United States and its allies.” They asked for testimony on:
- “The hurdles preventing engagement between the Intelligence Community and the private sector entities — including academia and industry — developing next-generation technologies;
- How to better equip the Intelligence Community with the people, authorities and tools it needs to adopt next-generation technologies;
- How public perceptions of the Intelligence Community influence the way in which researchers and companies engage with the Intelligence Community; and
- What ethical norms should govern how the Intelligence Community incorporates next-generation technologies into its activities.”
I was honored to testify alongside:
- Mr. Chris Darby, Chief Executive Officer, In-Q-Tel;
- Dr. DJ Patil, Advisor, Venrock and former U.S. Chief Data Scientist, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
- Dr. Maria Zuber, Vice President for Research, Massachusetts Institute for Technology and Member, National Science Board.
My recommendations included:
- Creating more ways for tech talent to serve in government, including for term-limited tours of duty, akin to the United States Digital Service, Defense Digital Service, 18F, and Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF).
- Making government attractive to the next generation of talent by ensuring faster hiring, security clearance reform, and a modern tech stack — to ensure we attract ambitious early career talent, like those in Coding It Forward.
- Reducing friction between venture-backed companies and the IC, including the creation of new onramps for next-gen companies to sell into the IC, akin to the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
- Fixing how the government builds, buys, and evolves software, building on Defense Innovation Board (DIB) software and AI recommendations — and using Kessel Run as an example that the government can rapidly ship mission-critical software.