Reagan Institute to hold defense innovation summit in DC

By Tony Bertuca / January 18, 2023 at 10:25 AM

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute plans to host its first annual National Security Innovation Base Summit in Washington on March 14, accompanied by a “report card” for the Pentagon and panel discussions featuring defense and congressional officials.

Reagan Institute Policy Director Rachel Hoff told reporters the event is meant to continue national security conversations begun at the Reagan National Defense Forum held in Simi Valley, CA, last month.

“We along with a set of advisors had understood that we needed a tool to kind of track where future areas for interventions are needed,” she said. “Then also to look back on previous efforts -- and to do this over time -- to track the effectiveness of various interventions, legislation or reform efforts.”

Hoff said a key feature of the upcoming event will be the launch of the NSIB Report Card, intended to be a policy tool for the institute to measure the effectiveness and productivity of the defense industrial base regarding innovation.

“This will be kind of an innovative policy tool that will allow policymakers and key stakeholders [to assess] this national security innovation base ecosystem,” she said.

Hoff said she and her team are developing a “short list of key indicators that will measure across a set of metrics and will assess with a letter grade . . . which areas are performing well . . . and which areas are ripe for future policy interventions or resources or need a new strategy or what have you.”

Hoff said examples of report card metrics include access to innovative capital and a well-trained 21st century workforce.

“We’re building the report card now,” she said, adding that it will likely be released a day or two before the summit.

“What we hope comes of it is that there’s a real conversation around the indicators that are at the bottom of the list and what we need to do to improve,” she said.

The report may also include fiscal recommendations, but Hoff said it remains to be seen if specific dollar amounts would be attached.

The announcement of the NSIB Summit follows Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent establishment of the Office of Strategic Capital, which is intended to invest in companies developing key defense technologies and help them bridge the so-called “valley of death” that lies between prototyping and production.