Acquisitions experts from the government and private sectors agree that the procurement system is broken, but they 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.
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.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sponsors the annual event, which supports the U.S. Defense Department and homeland defense and security acquisition decisions. Federal, state and local government organizations identify the technology solutions they are seeking.
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.
The general noted that a critical lesson learned from the past several years is that vital technological and operational changes are made on the ground by soldiers at the tip of the spear. More data is now available to warfigthers than ever before, but it must be made available to a variety of personnel across all echelons, he said.
Top Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials met with industry today to share their strategy and plans for the future. Lt. Gen. Carroll F. Pollett, USA, director, DISA told attendees at the Forecast to Industry Day that the agency is looking to the commercial sector to engage with DISA's leaders and help shape the future. Although he is considering developments in the short term-four to five years-he is especially focused on where the military and the United States will be 10 years from now as he makes plans and fills current requirements.
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. The partnership has been years in the making, GSA and DISA officials allowed.
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.
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. The new memorandum will allow the Navy and Air Force to share data that will help ensure program effectiveness and help contractors increase quality and improve on-time delivery, they say.
The U.S. Navy’s technology plans are moving away from systems to focus on capabilities. Changes aim to ensure that the fleet has the functionality to be operationally ready at all times.
The late Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his nom de guerre, V.I. Lenin, used to be famous, or at least infamous. As the founding dictator of revolutionary Russia, Lenin built a grim, cruel and mighty police state whose oppressive successor to this day menaces all too many unhappy people in eastern Europe. The man the Communists once idolized as “our dear Ilyich” is long gone and, in decent circles, not missed very much.
The U.S. government is adopting changes to the cloud computing certification program that will better protect against potential insider threats. The improvements include additional penetration testing, more thorough testing of mobile devices, tighter controls over systems being carried from a facility and more stringent scrutiny of systems connecting from outside the network.
U.S. Defense Department and interagency special operators are scheduled to begin receiving new tactical mesh networking equipment this month. The kit provides a mobile, ad hoc, self-healing network that offers a full range of situational awareness data, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance feeds, blue force tracking and a voice over Internet protocol capability.
Despite substantial research and investments, widespread interoperability continues to elude the Defense Department, the joint force and their partners. Some of the hurdles are inherent in the current acquisition and budgeting process. Others loom because of long-standing approaches to operation and training. Progress has been made, but the goal has not yet been attained.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is looking toward small business to provide vital technologies as the agency confronts budget constraints. Enticement efforts include targeted outreach, reshaped acquisition patterns and improved networking among potential contractors.
The relationship between small business and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is growing, says Sandra Broadnax, the small business director for the NGA. “We’re doing a lot more to embrace and bring industry to the table so that they can better understand our processes,” she states.
The U.S. Army is preparing—for the first time—to develop and field micro robotic systems under programs of record, indicating confidence that the technology has matured and years of research are paying off. The small systems will provide individual soldiers and squads with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in jungles, buildings and caves that larger systems can’t reach. Ideally, they will become valued combat team members.
A resurgence of activity has hit the mergers and acquisition market this year, with companies operating in big data analytics and cybersecurity seeing a lot of the action, experts say.
"We believe [big data analytics] is going to be an enduring problem," said David Wodlinger, principal with Arlington Capital Partners, a leading investor firm in defense technology and the aerospace market. "Data is getting created at such an astronomical rate, the quality of sensors are getting so much better … that the market for companies that have the capabilities to analyze these massive amounts of data is going to be hot now and going to be hot for the foreseeable future.