Bloomberg takes over Pentagon advisory panel

Last updated on October 17, 2022

The Defense Innovation Board, with new chair Michael Bloomberg, holds its first meeting today as the restocked advisory panel of technologists, academics and former military and political leaders helps the Pentagon sharpen its edge.

What’s happening: The board, which was established in 2016, will convene at noon for a closed session, followed by a public meeting at 4 p.m.

The gathering will be hosted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who rebooted the board in February, and Heidi Shyu, undersecretary for research and engineering.

POLITICO obtained a list of the seven new board members, which has not been previously reported. They are:

— Mac Thornberry, a former HASC chair who sits on the board of Canadian flight training company CAE and is an adviser to Hawkeye 360 and the RAND Corporation.

— Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former Joint Chiefs chair and now a consultant and partner at C5 Capital.

— Will Roper, former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition technology and logistics, who teaches at Georgia Tech and is a senior adviser at McKinsey and Company.

— Sue Gordon, the former principal deputy director of national intelligence, who sits on the boards of CACI International, Avantus Federal, BlackSky and MITRE Corp.

Gilda Barabino, president of Olin College of Engineering.

— Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and Inflection AI and a partner at venture capital firm Greylock.

— Ryan Swann, chief of data analytics at Vanguard.

Keeping it clean: The board’s charter stipulates that members “are appointed to provide advice on the basis of his or her individual best judgment without representing any particular point of view and in a manner that is free from conflict of interest.”

Nor can the board “advise on individual DoD procurements, but instead shall be concerned with the pressing and complex technological problems facing the DoD,” it states.

A new phase: Bloomberg, the business mogul and former New York mayor succeeds inaugural chair Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO, who sought to infuse the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley to Pentagon planning and investments.

The board’s recommendations have led to the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the adoption of principles for the development and use of AI, and the shift to more agile software development.

An enduring challenge: Bloomberg’s marching orders have a similar thrust: to provide “independent advice and recommendations on how to accelerate innovation and compete in a technology-and-innovation-driven environment.”

Bloomberg, for his part, has maintained that “our largest government agency must also be our most forward-thinking.”

A version of this story originally appeared in Monday’s Morning Defense.