The Department of Defense (DoD) has been taking steps to improve how it acquires and licenses intellectual property (IP) for technology required for cutting-edge weapons systems, but the agency still has more work to do with firming up responsibilities of a new IP Cadre group that it formed to make sure that the IP licensing functions work better.

That’s a top-line finding from a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in which the watchdog agency reported that “insufficient IP can reduce mission readiness and lad to surging costs.” GAO made several recommendations for DoD to improve its IP acquisition.

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“[DoD] acquires and licenses [IP] – such as computer software and technical data – for its cutting-edge weapon systems,” wrote GAO. “Yet, DoD often does not acquire the IP it needs to operate and maintain those systems, which can lead to surging costs later. In 2019, DoD assigned specific IP responsibilities to organizations within the department.”

GAO notes that DoD has not fully addressed how the new group of specialized experts that form the IP Cadre will fulfill all of their responsibilities. The IP Cadre faces uncertainty in funding and staffing, program support, and IP expertise, the report says.

Among the recommendations that GAO offered:

  1. Ensure that DoD’s planned guidebook on IP clarifies how DoD personnel can pursue detailed manufacturing or process data;
  2. Determine the collaboration, staffing, and resources needed to execute DoD’s proposed federated approach for the IP Cadre;
  3. Ensure the director of the IP Cadre collaborates with the President of the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) to prioritize IP-related tasks that DAU should undertake between 2023 and 2025; and
  4. Ensure the Director of the IP Cadre develops additional guidance to help component heads and Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) representatives identify the DoD personnel in key career fields that would benefit most from receiving IP training and credentials.

DoD concurred with all four recommendations.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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