- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Pentagon’s research arm tasked with turning “impossible” technological feats into practical capabilities has shared its secret to success: de facto term limits for employees.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been the defense industry’s vanguard of innovation for decades. A report released this month says its track record of delivering “game-changing” technology is in many ways attributable to a 25 percent turnover rate.

The agency is so adamant about its philosophy that employees have an “expiration date” stamped on their identification badges, CNN reported Wednesday.

Phillip Alvelda, a program manager at DARPA, told the network that managers regularly issues challenges with the goal of weeding out as many pessimists as possible.

“If half the people don’t respond to a publicly-announced challenge saying it’s impossible, we haven’t set the bar high enough,” Mr. Alvelda said.

Barry Pallota, deputy director of the biological technologies office, concurred.

“No idea is too crazy. The reaction is never, ‘That’s impossible.’ We say, ‘How would you do that? How would you get there? Write down the steps,’” said Mr. Pallota said, CNN reported.

“If you don’t invent the internet, you get a B,” program manager Matt Hepburn added.

The network said most industries have a turnover rate of roughly 15 percent.

DARPA has approximately 220 government employees in six technical offices, including nearly 100 program managers. Those offices oversee about 250 research and development programs.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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