"I tell people if you get three individuals with an attitude and an explosive, you've got a problem on your hands."--Lt. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, USAF, commander, ESC
MILCOM 2009 opened today with a speech by David Gergen, CNN commentator and editor at-large for US News and World Report.
The U.S. Coast Guard is taking steps to enhance its command, control, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities with new unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and network-centric systems for its ships. At a press briefing late last week, RAdm. Ronald J. Robago, USCG, the service's new assistant commandant for acquisitions, discussed steps being taken to evaluate and select a new shipboard UAS.
Whether it's needs versus wants, open conversations versus regulations to protect intellectual property or oversight versus open development, agencies and the commercial sector must find the happy medium for acquisition processes to be truly reformed.
Acquisitions experts from the government and private sectors agree that the procurement system is broken, but do not necessarily agree about how to fix it. Meeting at AFCEA International's SOLUTIONS Series conference today, a consensus was achieved on contributing factors to the problem. Long acquisition cycles strip the effectiveness of many of the IT systems that are being purchased by the time they hit the field. Time and cost estimates are not realistic from the beginning of the purchasing process. Leadership to bring about true change is lacking. These were just some of the topics brought up during today's discussion, a discussion that will continue tomorrow on the second day of "IT Acquisition: Shifting to a Modern Paradigm," taking place at the National Conference Center, Lansdowne, Virginia, as well as broadcast via the Web.
The 2010 Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) cycle has begun. Organizations interested in participating in the event can go to the Federal Business Opportunity site for details about how to participate.
LandWarNet closed with a keynote address by Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff. Outlining his views on command and control, the general noted that the Army is in a critical time of transformation and conflict. He added that the service has undergone rapid change during the last eight years.
Top Defense Information Systems Agency officials met with industry today to share their strategy and plans for the future.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have entered into a partnership to streamline acquisition of commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) services. Announced yesterday, the agreement will lead to a hybrid of GSA's multiple award schedules and indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts. Officials of both organizations are lauding this collaborative effort as "historic" and agree that the Future Commercial SATCOM Access contract will be worth $5 billion over a 10-year period.
Chris Gunderson of the Naval Postgraduate School posited some interesting ideas during yesterday afternoon's plenary sessions about why everyone keeps hearing the same things about changes that need to be made. Certain things, he suggested, we should just acknowledge and move past.
The U.S. Air Force is redoubling its efforts to reach out to small businesses. David Van Buren, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, and Ronald Poussard, director of the service's small business programs, explain that this effort seeks to remove the "check-the-box" mentality often associated with small business outreach. Innovation, agility, responsiveness and efficiency are some of the attributes small companies offer, but Van Buren also says, "We don't have enough competition now.
Harris Corporation has been awarded a blanket purchase agreement to provide land mobile radios to the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture as well as the FBI Training Academy.
Alion Science and Technology has been awarded a contract to support the Naval Systems Engineering Directorate in providing technical and management services in all technical disciplines required to design and support the full spectrum of naval ship types. The award has a potential value of $391 million if all options are exercised.
Heads shake and tongues wag whenever a conversation turns to the topic of the government acquisition process. From agencies that do not know exactly what they want—or do not know how to explain it—to contractors who deliver what they think an agency needs rather than what it asks for, the general consensus is that the system is in serious need of repair. Experts in the acquisition field also agree on some of the key changes that need to occur to put government acquisition back on the right track. Among the top priorities are additional training for the work force, a revamp of requirements approaches and adoption of a logical method for leveraging commercial products.
Stanley Incorporated has received a three-year, $3.8 million firm-fixed-price contract by the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command to provide technical, programmatic, managerial and administrative support to the program manager for Marine Corps Network and Infrastructure Services for the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN). Stanley will provide systems engineering planning, documentation and oversight of NGEN acquisition activities.
Aerospace Corporation is being awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for $797 million. This action will provide acquisition of scientific, engineering and technical support for the federally funded research and development center (Aerospace Corp.), which supports the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. Defense Department.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force have signed a memorandum of agreement that will leverage development, production, sustainment and upgrade efforts for the RQ-4-based programs under each of the services. The agreement enables the services to continue to pursue common objectives across the RQ-4 enterprise while retaining each service's specific mission and operational requirements. Military officials believe the agreement will promote cost savings and eliminate redundancies.