The Pentagon’s artificial intelligence hub wants unilateral acquisition power

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The outgoing director of the Defense Department’s artificial intelligence hub has a message for Congress: The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center needs its own acquisition authorities. Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the JAIC, said May 21 that if the center is to fulfill its mission of accelerating artificial intelligence adoption across the department and deliver products to commanders, then it needs the power to unilaterally procure AI services. As it stands, the JAIC has to go through contract vehicles provided by organizations like the General Services Administration, the Defense Information Systems Agency or the Defense Innovation Unit. “It’s not going to be fast enough as we start putting more and more money into this capability development,” Shanahan said, speaking on a webinar hosted by the AFCEA Washington, D.C., chapter. “We need our own acquisition authority. We have to move faster.” Shanahan, who is departing next month, said there is “very strong support” for a “willingness to consider” giving the center different acquisition authorities and models. His comments came just a few days after the JAIC awarded a five-year contract, potentially worth $800 million, to Booz Allen Hamilton through a GSA contract vehicle for data management and delivery of AI …

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