SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Six years ago, CACI International spent virtually nothing on independent research and development. Now, with the addition of several technology-focused acquisitions, the company is directing about $35 million annually to IR&D, according to the company’s chief executive.

Speaking to Defense News on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum here, John Mengucci said the contractor sees its research as a way to differentiate itself. He said he doesn’t have a future goal for the amount spent on IR&D; instead, the company is focused on what the research produces.

“You can spend money and get minimal results,” Mengucci said. “There has to be a purpose and an outcome that we’re trying to serve.”

CACI in 2013 acquired Six3 Systems, primarily for its space capabilities, according to Mengucci. In 2019, the company picked up LGS Innovations, which specialized in spectrum management and cyber work. Two years later, CACI bought SA Photonics, a photonics technology company.

Those three deals helped drive the company’s increased push to invest in research. “They gave us the foundation in tech,” Mengucci said.

Historically, government service providers focused on providing labor rather than products, making research investments less important. But in recent years, these contractors have increasingly incorporated technology into their businesses.

CACI’s $35 million annual investment is far smaller than some of the large prime contractors; Northrop Grumman, for instance, reported in its annual Securities and Exchange Commission report this year it spent $1.1 billion on IR&D in 2021.

Mengucci said CACI doesn’t aspire to provide major weapons systems. In mission technology, which includes areas like counter-drone systems and cyber operations, the company sees itself competing against and working with large, prime contractors.

He told Defense News the company is focusing its independent research in three areas: signals intelligence, electronic warfare and space.

“We’re not going to push the state-of-the-art,” Mengucci said. “We’re going to be pushing the customers’ mindsets. ‘Hey, if you took this and that and combine it with that, did you know you could do that?’ ”

Marjorie Censer is the editor of Defense News. She was previously editor of Inside Defense. She has also worked as the defense editor at Politico, as well as a staff writer at the Washington Post, the Carroll County Times and the Princeton Packet.

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