Mike Madsen to take helm as acting director of Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit

Madsen, who currently serves as DIU’s deputy director and director of strategic engagement, will take over temporarily when Mike Brown officially exits on Sept. 2.
Mike Madsen, DIU, DOD
Mike Madsen speaks June 5, 2019, at FedTalks in Washington, D.C. (FedScoop)

Mike Madsen — an Air Force veteran, decorated combat pilot and former legislative liaison — will serve as the Defense Innovation Unit’s acting director once Mike Brown officially exits on Sept. 2, FedScoop has learned.

That role will mark a temporary promotion for Madsen, who currently serves as DIU’s deputy director and director of strategic engagement. 

Formed by the Pentagon in 2015, the unit is designed to strategically accelerate the military’s adoption of commercial technologies. It is headquartered in Silicon Valley and runs outposts in multiple U.S. tech hubs. 

Brown, a former CEO-turned-White House Innovation Fellow, has headed DIU for the last four years. He surprised many when he announced plans to depart this year when his term ends, despite an option to stay on.


“As deputy director, Mike Madsen will be acting director of DIU until a new person is identified and takes the helm of the organization,” a DIU spokesperson told FedScoop on Monday. Madsen “will stay in place to help in the transition until his [term as an appointed Highly Qualified Expert within the DOD] expires in 8 months.”

DIU’s next director will likely enter the position with expertise from the commercial sector, as Brown had. 

Madsen “is not putting his name in for consideration for [permanent] director of DIU,” the spokesperson said.

Applicants competing to take his reins as DIU’s next permanent director were required to submit materials to the Defense Department by mid-August. That review process is ongoing and will likely take at least a month, the DIU spokesperson told FedScoop.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense landscape. Prior to joining DefenseScoop, she produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. Brandi was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. She grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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