Mitchell Institute Releases New Policy Paper
“Data Requirements and Rights: Time for a Reassessment”

ARLINGTON, Va (June 20, 2018) —The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the latest installment in its Mitchell Institute Policy Papers series, “Data Requirements and Rights: Time for a Reassessment,” by Senior Visiting Fellow Col Herbert C. Kemp, USAF (Ret.), PhD, with Mitchell’s Director of Research Maj Gen Lawrence Stutzriem, USAF (Ret.), and Mitchell Senior Fellow Heather Penney.

This latest policy paper takes a look at a problem bubbling beneath the surface of many of the Air Force’s leading acquisition programs—namely, data requirements and rights. Unlike the development of weapon systems in the 20th century, today’s military hardware is highly dependent on information age technology. However, the Air Force’s acquisition practices are not sufficiently modernized to properly define data requirements in support of affordable weapon system sustainment strategies.

A survey of recent acquisitions indicate that the services may be seeking more data rights than necessary, instead of securing data rights only necessary to facilitate life-cycle needs. The practice of expansive demands for data rights not only runs counter to the objective of affordable sustainment, but it also negatively affects vendors in the defense industry that are critical to obtaining, sustaining, and modernizing capabilities for the warfighter.

The Air Force and the defense industry must share an understanding of the critical role that intellectual property plays in the viability of the industrial base, capability development, access to innovation, and ultimately US technological superiority. Blanket demands for data rights places all at risk.

Kemp, Stutzriem, and Penney lay out a series of recommendations to gain a critical balance between the needs of government and industry. They include developing a rigorous process to derive requirements for data rights, cultivating a cadre of acquisition professionals who specialize in lifecycle data requirements and rights, and improving government-industry communication throughout the acquisition process.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series that presents new thinking and proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges facing the US and its allies in the 21st century. These papers are aimed at lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry representatives, academics, journalists, and the informed public. The series aims to provide in-depth policy insights and perspectives to help illuminate potential solutions, informed by the experiences and expertise of Mitchell’s affiliated authors, paired with studious research.

For more information on the series, contact Mitchell’s Director of Publications Marc V. Schanz at or visit our website, at

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