The White House’s new National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies lists 20 new emerging technologies it plans to prioritize. Tony Scott, Chief Executive Officer of The TonyScottGroup and former U.S. Chief Information Officer, spoke with “Government Matters” about the list and how the U.S. can promote innovation in the national security realm.
The White House’s strategy revolves around both promoting the national security innovation base and protecting the U.S. technology advantage. Scott said he’s wary of keeping innovation away from allies and partners.
“I found that a little bit troubling, because we have some great partners internationally. I think we need to be careful about foreign influence … among our partners who have been great in terms of helping us in the technology space,” he said.
The strategy includes priority actions for both of its main pillars. Scott listed some steps the government can take to implement the new strategy and encourage national security innovation.
“I think there’s a couple of things that really make a difference if you get them right,” he said.
Scott said agencies should establish leadership in government to prioritize each emerging technology. He also recommended making sure grants and other activities emphasize the development of new technology. He also said the legitimate use of unsolicited proposals could be a “game-changer.”
“One of the most important things, I think, is we’ve got to change the way the government could use unsolicited proposals,” Scott said. “When I was in the private sector, this was one of the key ways that I was able to bring new and innovative things into my organization.”
Scott cites a need for leadership to change procurement rules and culture to look at barriers to unsolicited proposals. He said companies are sometimes reluctant to bring unsolicited proposals to the government.
“I had more than one key supplier say, ‘I’d love to come and do this, but the first thing that happens in most agencies is you turn right around to my competitor and ask them for their opinion or competitive bid using the things that I just showed you,’” Scott said.
He said the Office of Management and Budget can encourage unsolicited proposals at agencies, but that each agency needs to implement them.
“I think OMB is the place that could create a more unified and common approach to [unsolicited proposals],” Scott said.
As the new strategy is implemented, Scott said he will follow how the Administration will designate leaders and invest in people to accomplish the strategy.
“You not only need leadership, but you need subject matter experts,” he said. “I would hope that in each of these critical areas we find a way to gather the subject matter experts together.”