The Potomac Institute’s Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought (CReST) hosted a Bold Ideas Seminar featuring Mr. Alan Shaffer. He spoke about lessons learned and highlights of more than a decade in the Pentagon serving in senior roles. Attendees were able to get a glimpse into his career in the Pentagon as a leader in research and engineering, including assignments as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. In this position, Mr. Shaffer was responsible for formulating, planning and reviewing the DoD Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs, plans, strategy, priorities and execution of the DoD RDT&E budget that totals roughly $25 billion per year.Mr. Shaffer discussed the acquisition and technology strategies employed at the DoD. He spoke out on the need for project managers to own the technological baseline, with an emphasis on technical expertise and experience. While the DoD operates on very complex statutory processes, Mr. Shaffer spoke to the Department’s ability to continue to be an innovating force. The DoD works in tandem with commercial technologies and Congress as partners in the technology innovation process. Mr. Shaffer posed his ideas for fueling agile innovation in the DoD through the development of open systems that work with industry, create new markets for upgrades, and provide opportunities for creativity across all systems.

Prior to entering the federal government, our distinguished guest served a 24-year career in the United States Air Force with assignments in weather, intelligence, acquisition oversight and programming. Mr. Shaffer provided key insights into his personal experiences throughout his career, both in the Air Force and in public service. Mr. Shaffer dedicated time to engaging the younger generation of attendees and reflecting on the most important lessons from his career that he could pass on to them.

Please click here for the CReST Bold Ideas seminar report featuring Mr. Alan Shaffer.


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The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.


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