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Acquisition

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.

Developmental UUVs Offer Offense, Defense From Anywhere

November 25, 2013
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Navy is expanding its autonomous subsurface fleet with the introduction of a platform designed for persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as offensive capabilities.

Senator Charles Schumer: U.S. Army to Adjust Radio Acquisition

November 18, 2013

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that the U.S. Army has committed to a multivendor, multiaward acquisition process that will allow multiple companies to compete for the Joint Tactical Radio System Manpack and Handheld Rifleman Radio contracts.

New Challenges Emerge to NGEN Transition

December 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network, freed from the challenge to its contract award, now enters a phase of uncertainty as the government and the winning bidder confront the aftermath of a 108-day delay. This delay has affected both the Navy’s and the contractor’s plans for the transition from the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet.

On October 31, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed the challenge to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract that had been awarded on July 15. The original deadline for resolving the challenge was October 23, but the federal government shutdown pushed that date back. This required the Navy’s original milestone dates to be rescheduled, and the winning HP consortium faces the challenge of beginning the network transition from a cold start instead of from the ongoing continuity of services contract (COSC).

Bill Toti, vice president and account executive, HP Navy and Marine Corps Accounts, explains that key Navy personnel have transitioned, and the company had to divert resources to keep people fully employed. Bringing them back into the program and recalibrating the effort back to the July cutoff point is a challenge. “It’s not efficient to shut down and start up like this,” Toti states. “Any time you play with efficiencies of processes, you lose something. This [hiatus] has been a bad thing for us and the Navy.”

The Bottom Line: Revolution Through Evolution

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The bottom line is that today's military structure is not set up to foster creative solutions and incorporate them into the bureaucracy, but a revolution quietly erupted in October. More than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military's most vexing problems.

Sequestration Hits Today’s Readiness and Tomorrow’s Modernization

November 7, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. military’s readiness to fight and its ability to purchase major weapon systems for the future are both threatened by strict budget caps established under sequestration, the Joint Chiefs warned during a November 7 hearing with the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

NGEN GAO Contract Challenge Hurts Implementation

November 6, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The delay in implementing the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) caused by the contract challenge to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has affected more than just the transition time frame. The network transition will cost more for the Navy because of lost funding opportunities.

Leaders Look to Reduce Soldiers' Communications Budget Stress

November 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Current fiscal and world conditions are taking their toll on the ability of the U.S. Army’s signals community to keep soldiers equipped with the latest developments. However, leadership embraces the challenges as impetus to improve, ensuring that troops are prepared as they transition from an operational to a contingency force. Necessity is inspiring creativity to developing solutions, with the government reaching out to industry for more help. As the service branch’s chief information officer/G-6, Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA, said, “You can’t wring your hands if you’re rolling up your sleeves.”

Her remarks came during TechNet Augusta, held in September in Augusta, Georgia. Despite problems, the Army is well into creating its LandWarNet (LWN) 2020. Gen. Lawrence assured users that all the resources they need are available through it, with the added benefit of capabilities to share with other soldier communities. “We cannot get to LWN 2020 by operating these very expensive, stovepiped networks,” Gen. Lawrence explained. Many of the efforts undertaken by the G-6 focus on savings, an absolute necessity in the current fiscal climate.

The general remarked several times during the conference that the Army needs industry to help it give soldiers critical capabilities. She, along with Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, and Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, USA, deputy for acquisition and systems management, headquarters, Army, spent nearly two hours one afternoon meeting with industry members to answer their questions and hear their ideas. Opening up increased dialogue between the public and private sectors is a priority for all the leaders who spoke at TechNet Augusta.

Public and Private Sectors are Far Apart on LPTA

October 24, 2013
By Rita Boland

Lowest price technically acceptable procurement might not give government the best solutions, and it definitely causes consternation for industry, but it is here to stay at least for a while.

Fewer Conferences = Less Innovation

September 30, 2013

Industry and government personnel believe that event cancellations and travel restrictions are having a negative impact on innovation and collaboration.

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