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Acquisition

Small Business Strategies That Mitigate Sequestration

October 19, 2012
By Beverly Mowery Cooper

Sequestration, the U.S. government's across-the-board deficit reduction mandate, is programmed to go into effect on January 2, 2013, despite universal warnings about the consequences of this action. Under this policy, fiscal year 2013 domestic discretionary spending will see an 8.4 percent cut in appropriated funds, and non-exempt defense spending will suffer a decrease of 9.2 percent. But, there are steps contractors can take to mitigate the impact of sequestration.

Managing Change in the
 Intelligence Community

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new computing architecture emphasizes shared resources.

The nation’s intelligence community has embarked on a path toward a common computer desktop and a cloud computing environment designed to facilitate both timely sharing of information and cost savings. The implementation could result in budget savings of 20 to 25 percent over existing information technology spending within six years, but the ramifications could include large cultural changes that result both in lost jobs and business for industry partners.

Al Tarasiuk, chief intelligence officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), explains that the changes will be difficult. Agency employees, and the vendors who help operate and manage information technology for the 17 agencies composing the nation’s intelligence apparatus, will feel the effects of the cost cuts.

“Right now, technology is not our biggest risk. The culture change is our biggest risk, and that extends to our industry partners. We have a lot of industry employed in the community through service contracts and other things. They could help, or they could choose not to help,” Tarasiuk emphasizes, candidly describing the pivotal role of these firms in a transition that could spell the loss of both business and jobs. “They know, and I’ve been very open with them, that we’re not going to need the pool of resources of people that we have today to manage what we have in the future.”

A Different Type of
 Self-Forming Network

October 1, 2012
By Rita Boland

People, not necessarily technology, come together in a plan to foster creativity in acquisition.

The head of technology information at the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization has initiated a plan to improve how coalition members procure capabilities by focusing first on personnel, not technology. Through the new approach, government, industry and academia will re-frame conversations and have more meaningful dialogues, which should lead to deploying apt solutions more quickly.

Leveraging his position in an agency built on agility, Jim Craft, the chief information officer (CIO) and deputy director information enterprise management at the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), is reaching out to partners across the spectrum. His goal is to alter how they purchase or present materials in the hopes that lives will be saved and innovation will be rewarded. The idea has particular relevance to counter improvised explosive device (IED) and information technology operations and should foster creativity, eventually leading developments into the best funding streams.

Craft calls his plan for this rapid acquisition process the innovation engine. In formal terms, he explains that it “is a systematic, disciplined approach to leverage self-forming networks among coalition partners and in the private sector and the whole of government in order to discover and encourage innovation, then rapidly adapt that innovation to support the JIEDDO mission and where appropriate the information technology support of our warfighters.”

Participants Wanted for 2013 PlugFests

September 28, 2012
Rita Boland

For the September issue of SIGNAL, I wrote an article about a new effort at AFCEA designed to spur innovation and rapid acquisition in defense technology. Dubbed PlugFests, the events are managed by the Rapid Integration Innovation Process (RI2P) special interest group, which is dedicated to showing the value of such events to government and industry.

During 2012, PlugFests took place at AFCEA's TechNet Land Forces conferences as RI2P group members worked to get out the word about their program and demonstrate the importance of the concept. Now, they are seeking new partners to participate in 2013. Personnel are drafting next year’s PlugFests with plans to conduct six to eight of them focused on a variety of themes. Group members are planning to introduce science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities into their future efforts as well. Already they are in discussions with San Diego points of contact to include STEM features at the PlugFest Booth at the AFCEA West show next January.

The group is looking for volunteers to serve as subject matter experts to develop use cases; as technology providers to offer software-based services and hardware solutions to continue to expand the reusable technology stack; and as developer challengers to bridge the gap between subject matter experts and the technology stack in the form of rapid prototype applications.

DISA Strategic Plan Seeks to Eliminate Ambiguities

September 12, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The defense information technology realm is exploding with innovation—so much so, the organizations tasked with ensuring effective information systems run the risk of losing control of both the process and its capabilities. The Defense Information Systems Agency has issued a new strategic plan that outlines its approach to ensuring advanced technology implementation without reining in innovation.

 

Events Demonstrate Viability of Rapid Acquisition

September 1, 2012
By Rita Boland

Members of government and industry are taking concrete steps to address long-standing problems in the procurement community through plug fests--events that test the interoperability of network devices by plugging them into functioning networks. Various organizations within and outside of government have hosted such programs, but recently a group of public and private partners in the defense industry decided to organize plug fests specifically to address problems in the military arena.

The Most Important Things

June 11, 2012
By Dan Ward

 The Air Force Chief of Staff had but three critical requirements for the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM): "It should work; it should hit the target; and it should cost under $40,000 each." If only every requirements document could fit on a sticky note!

U.S. Navy Releases NGEN RFP

May 9, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

After several months of drafts and comments, the U.S. Navy now has released the request for proposal (RFP) for its Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN. The 1,100-page RFP provides guidance for prospective bidders on a contract that likely will total 4.5 billion dollars.

Capt. Shawn P. Hendricks, USN, is the program manager for PMW-205 Naval Enterprise Networks. He says that the RFP's size is what makes it stand out among other RFPs. "It's enormous," he states, "and they [bidders] will have to eat it one bite at a time. Yet, at the end of the day, it all has to work together."

The captain adds that hardware and software costs ultimately will constitute only about one-third of the contract. The other two-thirds will involve personnel, and this may put pressure on industry to keep personnel costs down "in a technically acceptable way," he says. The NGEN program would comprise a conglomerate of many disparate networks serving Navy and Marine Corps personnel (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2011, page 18).

Unlike its predecessor, the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI)-which took the form of a service provided by a contractor-NGEN will be controlled by the government.

The RFP originally was expected to be issued in December 2011, but officials delayed its release to seek further comments from industry on two important sections. The penultimate draft RFP was issued this past March; and the program management office received more than 170 comments from industry in the ensuing 10 days. After reviewing those comments and incorporating changes where appropriate, the RFP was designated for release on May 9, 2012.

Industry now has until July 18 to respond. The contract is expected to be awarded in February 2013. Click here for the NGEN RFP. The RFP number is N00039-12-R-0009.

Budget Crunch Imperils Navy Shipbuilding

January 24, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

Shipyards must apply old and new lessons to give the Navy what it needs and can afford.

U.S. Strategic Interests Tied to Financial Well-Being

January 24, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The national security strength of the United States is inexorably linked to its fiscal health, according to a high ranking member of the Joint Staff. Accordingly, the Defense Department must do its part in nationwide belt-tightening.

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