program manager becomes involved. Weekly program reviews are held involving all participants, no matter where they are located. At these meetings, the customer—DARPA—observes the same problems that are being reported directly to the program managers. If a disagreement is not resolved at a weekly review, then it is addressed at an executive team meeting, typically held each quarter. The executive team meets to share strategies and visions and to resolve any such differences.
Walker went on to ask if there was any international content in the program. If there was, was it government-encouraged or government-directed or was it sought by the team in order to meet a requirement? Were there any issues and lessons that could be pointed to in that regard? Joe replied that special permission was necessary in order to involve international partners. The international traffic in arms regulations (ITAR) are rather cumbersome and basically discourage a company from going after international involvement when a program has an aggressive time frame. Welby said there were ongoing discussions about internationalization of the UCAV effort. However, it was too soon to talk about this.
Steering committee members continued to ask questions of the panelists. Charles Trimble mentioned that one might infer from Joe’s comments that Northrop Grumman was motivated to involve small business for reasons other than the contract requirements. Was that because there were unique technology issues—for instance, that small business could provide a more innovative framework, more technology drive, and more technology innovation than perhaps Northrop Grumman could get from traditional corporate entities? Joe replied that Northrop Grumman was motivated by a combination of those factors. Certain companies had technologies that Northrop Grumman wanted to use in the program to see if they would bear fruit. The corporation has its own goal—namely, to use small business for 40 percent of the DOD program base.
Continuing along the same line, an attendee asked which processes Northrop Grumman used to seek out small businesses. Joe replied that Northrop Grumman’s materiel program is organized by commodity. The company finds as many businesses as possible that have a certain product line or commodity and that are registered with the DOD small business program and announces that it will be holding a conference to introduce small businesses in a certain area to the corporation and explain to them how to do business with it. These conferences are conducted at various locations in the United States.
Branscome asked Welby to provide a DARPA perspective on its interaction with small business. Are the SBIR and STTR the only mechanisms, or are there others that DARPA uses to reach out to the small business community? Welby responded that DARPA attempted to use acquisition vehicles that were particularly amenable to small business. There are program phases sized purposely to be very appropriate for small business response. He also commented that DARPA was driven by a desire to reach out to an innovative community. When DARPA has a program manager who is very engaged with small business in technical matters, this manager virtually serves as a mentor to that small business. The program managers interact much more closely with the small companies than with some of the larger firms that have more arm’s-length contractual arrangements. DARPA finds it fruitful to bring small businesses on board at the appropriate contract scale and to engage them as early as possible in the process. The