In times of budget austerity, cyber capabilities are one of the very few areas of the defense budget expected to increase. While investments are needed, throwing money at the issue alone will not solve our problems.
The Defense department’s process for acquiring new capabilities is designed for obtaining large weapons platforms that remain online for decades. That acquisition process is not suited for the cyber realm. Cyber capabilities become outdated as threats are constantly evolving. Their cycles of use are far shorter than typical weapons systems, and the Pentagon’s efforts to close the cyber-preparedness gap have lagged. Hagel must work within the Pentagon, and with Congress, to craft a more efficient process for developing and approving new cyber capabilities.
Hagel should also ensure that his department continues to improve relationships with private-sector innovators, such as small technology start-ups, that are working on cutting-edge solutions to tomorrow’s problems. The federal contracting process is cumbersome, making it difficult and time-consuming for small businesses to navigate. Hagel should work with Congress to improve incentives for small businesses to contract with the federal government and help the Pentagon keep pace with rapid technological developments.