I recently returned from the annual Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC) in beautiful downtown Montgomery, Alabama. While Montgomery may seem like an unusual choice of location for a military technology conference, Montgomery is home to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and the Gunter Annex, which is one of leading Air Force information technology centers in the country. It was great to see the many military servicemen and women come together with technology industry leaders at the conference, and the turnout was impressive with over 5,000 attendees.
I am pleased to see several of the large government technology conferences expand beyond the traditional convention hot spots into locations such as Montgomery. It not only provides easier access to industry and military leaders that may have travel limitations, but it also gives a nice boost to the local community. In fact, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce estimated that the three day event could inject $6 to $10 million into the local economy.
The overall theme for the conference was “Dominance at the Speed of Need,” with an emphasis on how a streamlined technology acquisition structure and process is vital to keeping our military on pace with IT innovations, and ultimately, getting new technology into the hands of the Air Force to help them accomplish their air, space and cyberspace mission.
With my role at HP I have been able to work with the Air Force to see the technology acquisition process first hand. While it may seem a bit complex to the outsider, the process has been streamlined and the recent programs put into place are in fact helping the Air Force achieve their goal of a streamlined acquisition process.
To illustrate an example of this, I was able to catch up with Martin Toland, primary program manager with Air Force procurement, while at AFITC. HP has worked with Martin for several years as he is one of the leads for computer hardware procurement at the Air Force. Just recently, HP was selected for a five year Air Force contract, or Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), and I spoke to Martin about the contract.
In the video with Martin, he mentions the Air Force Information Technology Commodity Council (AF ITCC), which is a group of military and technology experts that include top Air Force officials that evaluate vendors’ submissions for the Air Force contracts. I connected with Ric Kalford, an electronics engineer at Peterson Air Force Base and one of the members of the AF ITCC to learn more about the Air Force procurement process.
I also spoke with one of my HP colleagues about our work with the Air Force over the past couple of decades, including the most recent contract mentioned earlier by Martin. Here’s the video with me and Allen Young, HP Department of Defense program manager.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or would like to share insights about the AFITC show and the military’s focus on improving the technology procurement process. Also, I set up a Flickr slideshow if you want to see some pictures from the event.