Interior resumes buying nonemergency drones, if they’re Pentagon-approved

The easing of restrictions coincides with the launch of the Blue sUAS program and the Trump administration's push to "buy American" to ensure cybersecurity.
(Getty Images)

The Department of the Interior has resumed buying small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for nonemergency purposes, so long as they’re U.S. made.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt eased restrictions on such purchases now that the Pentagon‘s Defense Innovation Unit is offering secure, trusted drones, called Blue sUAS, to agencies.

Bernhardt had temporarily grounded Interior’s nonemergency drone fleet citing cybersecurity concerns, and a desire to buy U.S.-made sUAS, in Secretary’s Order 3379 issued in January.

“Drones serve important functions to missions of the department,” Bernhardt wrote, in a memo released Tuesday updating the order. “The Blue sUAS availability may help these emergency and nonemergency missions and training for such missions, which are consistent with the department’s national security interests.”


Emergency drone uses include responding to a state or national emergency, preventing and fighting wildfires, and search and rescue missions. Interior drones not on the Department of Defense’s approved list remain limited to such uses.

Bernhardt’s memo and Blue sUAS align with President Trump‘s executive order to buy and hire American.

DIU offers Blue sUAS on the General Services Administration schedule and Advantage, and they’re exempt from approval and reporting procedures instituted by Interior’s Office of Policy, Management and Budget in the interim.

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