Since 2015, millions of dollars have been invested in the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, the agency watched as some of its projects fell flat, and only about 23% the organization’s completed projects ended up in the hands of troops — but the thing is: DIU is completely fine with that.
DIU’s success statistics, delivered in a July report card to Congress, are the first long-term numbers to come out of the Defense Innovation Unit (formerly the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental) since its inception.
The metrics, which also address time-to-contract and other areas, highlight a vexing dichotomy currently playing out in the Defense landscape: How can the world’s largest military field state-of-the-art technologies faster to counter China and Russia without compromising oversight and opening the door for waste?
While successful DIU experiments ended up, or will end up, as technologies that will protect service members from drones and detect cyber vulnerabilities on DoD networks, 77% of completed prototypes DIU invested in failed to make it to contract or have yet to make it to contract. That leaves millions of taxpayer dollars on the table, which can sometimes be a hard sell for lawmakers. Congress remains at least marginally skeptical of the program built to convert private cutting edge technology for military use.