Army Futures Command (AFC) needs to improve its engagement with small businesses in driving its research and development (R&D), according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published today.
AFC was established in June 2018 to modernize the Army, and its officials have said they consider “small business engagement critical to its success, and that they are “exploring innovative ways to help small businesses develop technologies that address Army needs” to meet its mission.
GAO, however, said that AFC has not fully leveraged other Army components that work with small businesses, such as the Army Office of Small Business, to meet its goal of effective small business engagement.
“The command has recently been working to improve coordination, but has not formally coordinated such as by establishing agreements with other Army organizations that have small business expertise,” GAO said. “Doing so would help Army Futures Command leverage this past experience and avoid missing opportunities to engage with these companies and access innovative research and development.”
Furthermore, GAO found that AFC does not track how frequently or how it engages with small businesses in conducting R&D. And despite AFC official statements saying that they use performance measures in assessing the efficacy of their engagement efforts, AFC has yet to create a command-wide plan to assess effectiveness.
Given the critiques, GAO made three recommendations to the Army secretary, who should direct the AFC commanding general to:
- Formalize coordination roles and responsibilities for small business engagement in support of R&D with relevant Army organizations;
- Systematically track AFC small business engagement in support of R&D across its subordinate organizations; and
- Establish, in coordination with other Army entities, both command-wide performance measures and a plan to use these measures to assess small business engagement effectiveness.
The Army concurred with all three recommendations.