The Section 809 Panel reports represent the culmination of more than 2 years of collective brainstorming, engagement, and intense research about how to change defense acquisition from an outdated, industrial-era bureaucracy to a more streamlined, agile system able to evolve in parallel with the speed of technology innovation. The Section 809 Panel proposed both evolutionary and revolutionary changes. The panel’s recommendations, in part, will allow DoD to make purchases in a manner similar to the way private-sector businesses do—which is difficult, and in some cases impossible under the current acquisition system. If implemented, these recommendations would reduce barriers that deny DoD timely access to innovative technology and creative solutions from nontraditional companies and bridge the technical superiority gap that is beginning to develop today between the United States and near-peer competitors and nonstate actors.
To defend against potential enemies, DoD must move to a war footing approach for acquiring and delivering capabilities to ensure warfighters have the tools they need. The DoD acquisition system’s ability to meet threats that exist today is questionable. DoD lacks flexibility the nation’s near-peer competitors have, limiting its ability to field innovative solutions before potential adversaries do. In deliberating its recommendations, the Section 809 Panel considered ways in which DoD still uses Cold War-era approaches while operating in a cyber-war-era society. In total, 98 recommendations were made by the Panel in 3 volumes and an interim report. It was no small task to tackle the formidable challenges facing the United States as it strategizes how best to defend its citizens and interests when the pace of technological change dramatically affects the nature of the threats the nation faces and the capabilities at its disposal. Ultimately, the Section 809 Panel aimed to make recommendations that allow DoD to deliver and sustain technologically superior capability inside the turn of near-peer competitors and nonstate actors.
Who should Attend: DoD Acquisition Cross-Functional Teams (Government and Industry)
N. Ross Thompson III, 809 Commissioner, DAU
Ross Thompson joined the faculty at the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) in November 2015 as the Senior Acquisition Executive in-residence. He provides consulting, mission assistance, and executive coaching to Defense Program Executive Officers, Program Managers, and senior leaders in both the Defense Department and commercial industry.
Served for 36 years in the United States Army, retiring as a Lieutenant General. Final assignment was serving as the Principal Military Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), the Army’s senior acquisition officer.
Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer from 2010-2015 of an integrated facilities management company with over $700 million in annual revenue and 7,100 employees across the U.S. and in 10 international locations.
Commissioner from 2016-2019 on statutory Section 809 Panel charged with making recommendations on actionable changes to regulatory and statutory language to improve the Department of Defense acquisition process.
Currently serves on the Boards of Directors/Advisors for four companies focused on defense and commercial research, development, and prototyping.
David Drabkin, 809 Panel Chair
Charlie Williams, 809 Commissioner
Michelle Johnson, 809 Communications/Post 809 Implementation Tracking
Moderator: Dr. Robert E. Raygan, DAU Professor of Engineering Management and DAU Liaison to NDIA
References for Deeper Learning:
- Defense Pricing and Contracting (DPC) Section 809 Panel FAR and DFARS Research and Reference Document
- Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) 809 Panel
DAU Courses / Links