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Acquisition

Readying for Third-Generation Defense Systems

January 1, 2014
By Paul A. Strassmann

The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.

Interoperable data now must be accessed from most Defense Department applications. In the second generation, the department depended on thousands of custom-designed applications, each with its own database. Now, the time has come to view the Defense Department as an integrated enterprise that requires a unified approach. The department must be ready to deal with attackers who have chosen to corrupt widely distributed defense applications as a platform for waging war.

When Google embarked on indexing the world’s information, which could not yet be achieved technically, the company had to innovate how to manage uniformly its global data platform on millions of servers in more than 30 data centers. The Defense Department has embarked on creating a Joint Information Environment (JIE) that will unify access to logistics, finance, personnel resources, supplies, intelligence, geography and military data. When huge amounts of sensor data are included, the JIE will be facing two to three orders of magnitude greater challenges to organizing the third generation of computing.

JIE applications will have to reach across thousands of separate databases that will support applications to fulfill the diverse needs of an interoperable joint service. Third-generation systems will have to support millions of desktops, laptops and mobile networks responding to potentially billions of inquiries that must be assembled rapidly and securely.

Private Sector Offers Acquisition Alternatives

January 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Fiscal constraints and technology evolution are forcing the government to re-evaluate procurement efforts with a renewed vigor. Industry has suggestions for improving processes, but progress will require a different level of dialogue between companies and their public-sector clients. Company leaders believe they can help government overcome some of its issues because they understand both realistic technical solutions as well as the effect policies have on acquisition cycles. But they need the opportunity to show what is available.

Improving Procurement Through Practical Measures

January 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Army is adjusting its Network Integration Evaluations to facilitate acquisitions more rapidly. Calls from industry and soldiers themselves have precipitated the moves. As companies face reduced funding streams, and technology advances in increasingly shorter intervals, implementing briefer time frames between testing and deployment is imperative to remaining viable on and off the field.

Silver Lining Hard to See in Budget Chaos

January 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Historical trends during military drawdowns indicate that current Defense Department budget cuts could last for more than a decade. This situation could endanger major acquisition programs and negatively impact the ability of the United States both to pivot forces to the Asia-Pacific region and to maintain a presence in the Middle East, experts say. But the department may have a short window of opportunity to reconcile strategy with lower budgets.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Seeks Partnership With Industry

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Partnering with industry is not a new concept for the military. However, with funding limits plunging, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has extended an invitation to industry to come up with ways of giving the Navy what it needs in economic ways.

The U.S. Navy Looks to the Cloud

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The move to the cloud offers great potential for U.S. Navy information technology efforts. Yet, other aspects such as applications and integrated capability sets must work their way into the sea service cyber realm.

Military Services Girding for More Cuts

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Reductions in defense funding are having a greater effect on the force than simply instilling fiscal belt-tightening. Already strapped for cash, the services are exploring innovative ideas for cost-efficient information technology acquisition.

 

Teamed Acquisition the Way Ahead for Defense Information Technology

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future defense information technology is likely to focus on a set of services instead of specific elements. Accordingly, bidders likely will consist of industry teams bringing diverse expertise to the acquisition table.

Defense Must Focus on Where Not to Spend Money

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Instead of deciding where to spend its money, the Pentagon now must decide where not to spend its increasingly scarce cash resources. This entails risk assessment that focuses on how not to hurt the warfighter.

How can government and industry best work together to achieve more affordable national security products?

December 1, 2013
By Rear Adm. James Greene, USN (Ret.)

When stripped to the bare essentials, the process followed in most defense acquisitions is quite simple. A requirement is generated, an acquisition strategy developed and a contract let, before the item is produced, deployed, sustained and, eventually, disposed of. Typically, efforts at acquisition reform have dealt with the predeployment phases and consist mostly of renaming the phases by changing milestones from ABC to 123 and back to ABC, by sliding milestone events left or right and by adding oversight reviews. With the current and expected future emphasis on affordability and cost control of major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs), a shift in focus from a process-centric to a product-centric approach deserves serious consideration. Indeed, it is a national security imperative that we procure more affordable weapons systems that can create win-win opportunitiesfor both government and industry. Government will be able to afford more national security assets and industry will be engaged to sell more of those assets.

So what is needed to create a more product-centric environment? On a macro scale, injecting stability, accountability and trust into MDAPs is an essential first step. Let’s examine each factor.

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