It used to be that military-developed innovations, such as GPS, drove the commercial marketplace. “Developed by military, now available for the commercial market,” was the age-old expression that summed up the influence of defense innovation.

Today, it’s the other way around. Commercial companies such as Google, Amazon, SpaceX, Blur Origin and others are driving the latest innovations, and the Pentagon is now in reactionary mode. Another challenge is that the pace of technology development is astounding, making it hard for any government agency to keep up with the times.

Army Secretary Eric Fanning believes that the Department of Defense (DoD) can change this by being more open to new technologies.

“We need to open ourselves up to all of this because technology is being developed differently and in faster and faster cycles,” said Fanning, speaking at the recently Defense One Summit. “We may need to change to get that.”

Secretary Fanning is no stranger to working hard to bring this vision to life.  In September, he spearheaded the launch of the Army’s new Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), which aims to address the innovation and modernization gap that is closing in near real-time.

He is also an advocate for bridging the gap between government and industry – especially when it comes to buying commercial off-the-shelf products. “There’s a lot of creativity and innovation in our defense industrial base and we need to find better ways to partner with them,” he stated at the Defense One Summit.

Unfortunately, Secretary Fanning is planning to transition out of this role once President Obama leaves office in January.  Though, his efforts are laying the foundation for Trump’s administration – a team that many believe will rely more on defense contractors.

For aiming to create a more modern military, and bridge the gap between industry and government, we are naming Secretary Fanning as this week’s GovTransformer. Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage of other federal executives and their agencies that are truly transforming how they support mission goals through the most effective use of IT.