WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has selected a new director to lead the Defense Innovation Unit and will announce its decision “very shortly.”
The organization, which lead’s the U.S. Defense Department’s efforts to transition commercial technology for national security applications, has been without a formal leader since September. Deputy Director Michael Madsen has served in that role in an acting capacity since then.
Under Secretary of Defense Heidi Shyu said during a March 23 House Armed Services Committee Cyber, Information Technologies and Innovation Subcommittee hearing that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will announce the director soon.
Former DIU head Mike Brown announced last April he would step down from the role at the end of his four-year term, despite being offered an opportunity to stay another year. When he left, he cited frustration with a lack of support for the organization from Defense Department leadership.
Shyu said during the hearing DIU plays an important role in connecting non-traditional companies with military customers, noting that the fiscal 2024 budget, released March 13, includes a “substantial increase” for the agency.
A Pentagon spokesman told C4ISRNET the FY24 request includes nearly $105 million for DIU, up from the $69 million Congress approved last year. The budget also proposes $15 million for national security innovation capital funding and $21.5 million for the Pentagon’s National Security Innovation Network, which also supports the unit.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.