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AFRL establishes one-stop shop for partnerships

  • Published
  • By Whitney Wetsig
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
The Air Force Research Laboratory established a new Strategic Partnering Directorate, or AFRL/SP, to achieve greater alignment, effectiveness and efficiencies in supporting partnership priorities across the Department of the Air Force’s science and technology, or S&T, enterprise. The Air Force Manpower and Personnel Directorate signed an organizational change request Dec. 22, 2022, after approval from the commander of the Air Force Materiel Command.
“AFRL has a long, successful history of engaging in collaborative partnerships, but today's dynamic environment requires a more unified approach to increase the impact of our S&T,” said AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle. “Creating a one-stop shop for partnerships will scale best practices and deliver efficiencies across the enterprise.”
Personnel from AFRL’s Small Business Directorate and Plans and Programs Partnerships division, or XPP, are now part of the new AFRL Strategic Partnering Directorate.
“We are bringing together two incredible teams, Small Business and XPP, with long track records of partnering," Pringle said. "I'm excited to see them learn from each other, consolidate their successes and increase momentum in partnering across AFRL."
According to XPP Division Chief Gus Vu, most of the 2,250-plus partnership agreements are currently established at the subject matter expert, or SME, level.
AFRL’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Tim Bunning said one AFRL directorate will help unify individual research needs with the technological focus areas of the AFRL enterprise and the DAF. The goal is to capitalize on external S&T innovations, ultimately leading toward future capabilities addressing warfighter challenges.
“In order to accelerate S&T, AFRL partnerships must move beyond the current paradigm of simply enabling SME to SME collaborations,” Bunning said. “In today’s environment, there is an increased need to shift to an integrated approach that leverages and evaluates S&T needs across the entire enterprise. A more holistic approach to partnerships will accelerate the advancement of S&T for both the Air Force and the Space Force.”
The new SP Directorate also aims to simplify accessibility to partnership opportunities for external entities, streamline internal workforce training and increase awareness of key technological areas of interest, said Brian McJilton, director of AFRL’s Small Business Directorate.

The AFRL commander made the decision to create a new directorate, which was then integrated into the High Performing Headquarters initiative led by AFRL Executive Director Timothy Sakulich.
“Partnerships are simply core to AFRL's mission effectiveness,” Sakulich said. “The new directorate will support the strategic focus and delivery of streamlined partnering tools we need in order to create and deliver technological advantage for Airmen and Guardians now and in the future." 
A new SP director at the DR-V level will be hired via a competitive announcement on USAJOBS.
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit