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Acquisition

U.S. Army Combines Key Acquisition Directorates

January 23, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Over the past month, the U.S. Army has consolidated two directorates in an effort to continue improving agile acquisition. Combining the offices is designed to allow more efficient and effective cooperation, enhance long-term planning capabilities and boost the service’s ability to acquire an overall system of systems.

The two directorates—System of Systems Engineering and System of Systems Integration—within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology [ASA(ALT)] have been combined into the Systems of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate. Heidi Shyu, the ASA(ALT), was briefed on the changes earlier this month.

Terry Edwards, who leads the new directorate, explains that under the previous organizational structure, no one was seeing the forest for the trees. “Unfortunately, these two processes weren’t connected optimally. The benefit first, for the Army, is the ability to look at a system of systems across the Army and to bring engineering and integration together,” Edwards says. “Nobody was looking at the system of systems.”

Additionally, he says, the former structure was too focused on the near-term. “The second benefit was to look at not just the near-term focused view of what we do for the Army, but also to look out at how we shape the Army’s architecture to be more capable but also more efficient in how we deliver that capability,” he says.

The ASA(ALT) officials have been developing long-term roadmaps toward the service’s future. “One thing Ms. Shyu has been doing is trying to establish this 30 year roadmap across all of our portfolios. One of the functions of our office will be to look across those portfolios and analyze how they align,” Edwards reveals.

Army Technology Acquisition Stumbles Despite Best Efforts

December 13, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

In many cases, haste makes waste as the U.S. Army wrestles with the inherent contradictions that emerged as it tries to speed new information technologies to warfighters.

 

NGEN Bidders Offer
 Continuity With Change

December 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The program may be revolutionary, but its product is evolutionary.

Despite its sea-change approach to acquisition, the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network program is being designed to evolve from its predecessor, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, in bids submitted by the two teams vying for the multibillion-dollar contract. The two bidders are focusing their efforts on the transition between the two networks, which is a process that will take several years.

Two teams are competing for the ground-breaking Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) program. One, led by Hewlett-Packard (HP), includes AT&T, IBM, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The other, led by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Harris, includes Dell, General Dynamics and Verizon. They have submitted bids based on an request for proposal (http://bit.ly/signalngen0512) issued by the Navy earlier this year. NGEN is designed to replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) early next year (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2011, page 18, “NGEN Race Heats Up”).

The teams offer varying emphases on the value of their proposals. However, they both stress the importance of the transition from the NMCI to NGEN, and they state that their proposals are designed to ensure stability while easing in innovation.

Bill Toti, vice president and account executive, HP Navy and Marine Corps Accounts, offers that his team’s bid is strengthened by the fact that the team includes the progenitors of the NMCI. “We’re the only people who have ever done this,” he declares, adding that this is a consideration that the Navy will have to take into account during source selection.

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!

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