On October 2, 2013, the TIDES Demonstrations welcomed Mr. Dennis McGinn as a participant in the Lunchtime Speaker Series. Mr. McGinn currently serves as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment. In this position, Mr. McGinn develops Department-wide policies, procedures, advocacy and strategy plans, while also overseeing all Department functions and programs related to installations, safety, energy and the environment. Prior to serving as Assistant Secretary, Mr. McGinn worked with Dr. Wells as a member of the Strong Angel team, a forerunner to the TIDES program.
Technology is an important part of knowledge and as the stresses of climate change continue to escalate, non-governmental work becomes increasingly important in solving the problems that this stress induces. Mr. McGinn emphasizes that the Navy and the Marine Corp will work with anyone with an idea to assist in a humanitarian crisis, regardless of what sector they come from. In the current fiscal environment it is increasingly important to find low cost solutions, something that is better left to the private sector.
Mr. McGinn firmly believes that the TIDES program serves as a window into the Department of Defense for the private sector. Through the STAR-TIDES network, private companies can connect their ideas to those in government looking for solutions much easier then through the traditional acquisition systems. This public/private partnership not only makes the distribution of ideas easier, it is also more fiscally sound, as the government can pay to use the idea verses buying and developing the technology outright. In Mr. McGinn’s opinion this partnership is the necessary next step for the government.
Attitudes in the government need to change in order to avoid complacency. An idea that has worked in the past may no longer be a fitting solution in our constantly changing world. It needs to be recognized that there are better solutions out there and programs like TIDES help to bring this realization to those in positions to make change. Besides changing their attitudes, the branches of the military need to work in a parallel effort with each other and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The branches of the military have no common language of data and each branch has its own standards for testing. The military needs to break down organizational barriers and work together to clear up the picture of what technology exists and how it can be useful.
Finally, Mr. McGinn stressed that the military needs to understand and embrace the role of NGOs. NGOs can provide an idea of what works and what doesn’t, while also building relationships and partnerships with the individuals they seek to assist. In order to more efficiently assists victims of crises, the military needs to develop a more universal system of technology acquisition across all branches and with NGOs.