Pentagon chief Hicks pursuing workarounds to fast-track military tech acquisition

The Deputy Secretary of Defense says the agency may redefine which projects are designated as new start programs.
Deputy Secretary of Defense nominee Kathleen Hicks listens to the start of her Senate confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. Feb. 2, 2021. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said on Tuesday that she is working to find “creative” workarounds to acquisition regulations to speed up the military’s technology buying cycles.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, the DOD leader said alternative contract structures could fast-track the acquisition process and help to support innovation from smaller companies working in defense research and development.

“[The goal is] helping in particular small companies that do not have enough capital upfront to survive all of that process to try to get something on contract for procurement.”

Hicks said she is looking at options including the expansion of adaptive acquisition pathways, and redefining what is categorized as a “new start” program.


New start programs can take longer to flow to contractors because it typically refers to projects that have yet to be justified by the department and funded by Congress through the normal budget process.

The defense comments from the civilian defense leader come after DOD technology chief Heidi Shyu last month at her Senate confirmation described an acute need for more upfront funding for technology research programs.

Adaptive acquisition pathways allow program managers and contracting officers to navigate more quickly through the mandated milestones and protocols for purchasing products and services. They were created through the Defense Acquisition System Directive that was signed into effect last September under the Trump Administration.

The new acquisition pathways were intended to significantly reduce the period that companies must wait to receive acquisition funding from the DOD.


Latest Podcasts