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The promise of innovation, the pain of protests

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In its fourth annual 20/20 Project on the State of the Homeland Security Enterprise Report, the Homeland Security & Defense Business Council, in partnership with Grant Thornton, presents recommendations surrounding the promise of innovation and the pain of bid protests in federal government acquisitions supporting the homeland security mission. The 2019 report addresses both challenges and opportunities surrounding innovation in the Homeland Security Enterprise. Key issues addressed include initiatives driving and impeding innovation, the application of innovative technologies and products to current and future operations and the role of the private sector plays in carrying out the Homeland Security Enterprise mission.

The aim of this year’s 20/20 Project was to identify and better understand the factors that drive success or failure in trying to acquire and deliver innovative solutions, the factors influencing behavior and decision-making regarding bid protests, and how perceptions around protests and innovation are affecting the homeland security mission. This year’s report also sought recommendations on actions or engagement models between government and industry that might help overcome the barriers to innovation and address the drivers of protests.

The report found the challenges that prevent the government from acquiring the innovation it seeks to accomplish its missions are closely related to the drivers of the protests. The key challenges underlying both innovation and protests are:

  • Communication problems between government and industry during the procurement process create barriers to innovation and lead to perceptions and beliefs that drive industry to protest.
  • The government’s desire to avoid protests leads to behaviors that stifle innovation and can actually increase the likelihood of an avoidable protest.
  • A “culture of risk aversion” by both sectors contributes to the lack of communication and other disruptive behaviors that challenge the government’s ability to acquire and industry’s ability to offer innovation, as well as creates perceptions that drive industry to protest.

Based on the insights from participants and survey findings, the project team developed a set of actionable recommendations to address these challenges. These recommendations aim to enable both sectors to build on progress and improve the ability for government and industry to better accomplish the homeland security mission.

To learn more about the recommendations of the 20/20 Project, read the full report, “The promise of innovation and the pain of protests.”