Garing: DOD should take page from Google's R&D book

A senior Defense leader wants DOD services and agencies to function more like search-engine giant Google Inc.

John Garing, Defense Information Systems Agency CIO, said when senior leaders from DISA met up with the chief product officer at Google recently, they learned how quickly Google turns ideas to prototypes.

'They go from idea to lab in two weeks, and from lab to prototype in three months,' said Garing, who spoke yesterday at the federal executive breakfast sponsored by market research firm Input Inc. of McLean, Va.

Once prototypes are developed, Google lets customers test the new offerings before deciding whether to invest in them, Garing added. This concept would be a great fit for DISA, an agency that has 25 percent of its $6 billion budget appropriated by Congress while the other 75 percent comes from its customers across the department.

'In the DOD, when we get into a program, we have invested so much money it's almost impossible to kill it,' Garing said. 'Why can't we be more like Google? That's where we're trying to go.'

Garing said the DOD should roll out small modules, one at a time, of their larger programs and let customers test them for effectiveness.

'We need to put it out and let people use it and see what's going to take off,' Garing said, cautioning the DOD to stop investing so much in upfront dollars 'that it paralyzes you later on.'

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