Implementation of a new information technology acquisition process is underway at the Department of Defense, said Patrick Wills, associate academic dean of Executive Programs, Defense Acquisition University, while speaking at the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration Industry Day on August 17, in Linthicum Heights, Md.
The new acquisition process, mandated by Sec. 804 of the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2647, now Public Law No: 111-84) is being adopted, Wills said. Sec. 804 is based on Chapter 6 of a March 2009 report (.pdf) from the Defense Science Board. The acquisition process, the report says, “should be agile and geared to delivering meaningful increments of capability in approximately 18 months or less–increments that are prioritized based on need and technical readiness.”
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was directed to report to Congress on the new acquisition process no later then 270 days from the enactment of the act. The act became law on October 28, 2009, making the report date July 25, 2010. The report to Congress on the implementation of Section 804, NDAA (2010), however, is pending.
The new process, explained Wills, must be designed to include:
- Early and continual involvement of the user;
- multiple, rapidly executed increments or releases of capability;
- early, successive prototyping supporting an evolutionary approach; and
- a modular, open-systems approach.
Other changes in Defense acquisition processes and organization, said Wills, include revisions to Space System Acquisition Policy (Directive-Type Memorandum pending), and revisions to Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (J-8 Integrated Product Team working).
Right now there is a great deal of uncertainty around Defense acquisition changes, said Wills. He stressed the need for acquisition officers and industry to closely follow the changes and be ready to adapt in the coming months. Flexibility is the most critical attribute for technology being presented to DoD right now, said Wills.
“IT is unique and different in itself. It occurs quickly, the refresh cycle is very fast, and it needs to be agile enough to have the insertions to be able to do that,” said Wills.
One evolving initiative he has been involved with is rethinking the analysis of alternatives portion of the process.
“How much do you really need to do for an AoA? Wouldn’t it be better to do a cost-benefit analysis or a business case, and start to move forward?” asked Wills. “And that’s really what the Defense Science Board is trying to look to. To try to compress these time cycles…try to look at risk reduction plans, mitigate it, whether the technology is mature or evolving and insert it also with the ability to move quickly into the development.”
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