Acquisition

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
The U.S. Army continues to use its Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) to examine how technologies work together on the service’s network. Future rounds are scheduled to include more joint and coalition partners to bring in additional perspectives and capabilities.

Moving forward through sequester, next fiscal year's evaluations include new contracts and contacts.

As the U.S. Army prepares its network of the future, it plans to make some changes to the way it approaches working with government and private partners. The moves will increase interoperability downrange while attempting to shorten the ever-frustrating acquisition cycle that keeps the military behind the curve in implementing cutting-edge technologies.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Declining defense funds and the rise of China may hinder strategic rebalancing efforts.

Whatever the threat; wherever the conflict; whatever the mission; the future U.S. military largely will be defined by forced budget constraints. The ongoing fiscal crisis, haunted by the twin specters of sequestration and continuing resolution, will have a greater say in shaping the future force than either adversaries or advances in weapon technologies.

April 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

As conflicts become more complex and uncertain in the 21st century, quick pivots to new technologies will become increasingly important. The starting point for this rapid fielding must begin with more frequent, and more relational, lower level warfighter-technologist interaction.

April 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Those of us who have been involved with government information technology (IT) for some time clearly remember the many efforts to improve IT acquisition. All certainly remember Vivek Kundra’s IT Management Reform Program, the 25-point plan. Most would agree that progress has been made, but some would argue—correctly I believe—that work remains to be done.

March 26, 2013
By Max Cacas

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has begun internal discussions regarding a multiaward contract for cloud computing services.

Anthony Montemarano, DISA’s director of strategic planning and information, told a briefing of industry leaders Monday that he and his agency are firm believers in cloud computing. “When you look at some of the functions that we perform in government, a lot of it can be provided in the commercial cloud. We have to come to grips with the value proposition,” he explains. He believes that the Defense Department’s cloud computing strategy must include DISA cloud resources, commercial cloud services and privately owned cloud services where appropriate.

March 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

The defining images of the opening stages of the 2001 Afghanistan invasion were of bearded U.S. Special Operations forces on horseback talking with invisible air assets high overhead. Ancient transportation technology melded with cutting-edge communication protocols created an odd but appropriate scenario in the midst of a wholly unanticipated conflict. The synergy of high- and low-capability technologies likely will define 21st century conflicts, especially with foes we cannot currently imagine.

March 1, 2013
by Kent R. Schneider

Anyone who has attended an AFCEA conference in the past two months has heard the constant drumbeat from senior government leadership on the limitations on operations and readiness likely to occur in defense, intelligence and homeland security. At the AFCEA/USNI West 2013 Conference in San Diego January 29-31, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a packed audience that the U.S. Defense Department did not know how much money it would receive, when it would receive it or what the restrictions on its use would be.

February 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

The Defense Department has a spending problem and must be reined in. The solution, however, goes far beyond simplistic budget cutting efforts such as across-the-board sequestration. It involves a fundamental cultural shift from both our appropriators and our subordinate-level commanders.

The past 10 years have been a financial boon for the military. This was true even as the rest of the U.S. economy was beset by recession and increasing unemployment. In 2001, the Defense Department base budget was $290.5 billion (in fiscal year 2012 dollars). By 2011, this amount had risen to $526.1 billion, excluding the funding required to sustain the Iraq and Afghan wars.

February 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

West 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3

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.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

West 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Quote of the Day:“’Flat’ is the new ‘up’ in this defense budget environment.”— Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy

The military services are facing potentially crippling constraints if sequestration takes place in March. Defense officials foresee the likelihood of draconian budget cuts being imposed that will cripple the force just as it is being counted on to assume new strategic missions. In most cases, the services will have to choose to sacrifice some capabilities so that others will remain part of the force. In worse-case scenarios, the U.S. military may be unable to meet its obligations when a crisis emerges.

December 13, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

NIE efforts do not pan out as expected; neither do some other rapid procurement approaches.

The U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) events are not working as well as anticipated in moving new technologies into the force, say two Army officials. This lack of success is accompanied by drawbacks in rapid acquisition strategies that may lead to a change in traditional acquisition approaches for communications and information systems.

Bryon Young, executive director, Army Contracting Command - Aberdeen Proving Ground, explains that the NIE process creates problems by attaining some of its goals.

December 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Marines communicate digitally over a network. The Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN, will take a new approach to networking yet evolve from the existing Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

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.

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. Defense agency budget actions could range from decreasing output to reducing personnel costs, and cuts in the personnel budget would most likely be through furloughs because terminating staff costs money. While operational defense forces in the field would not be cut, their training, equipment, facilities and logistics support could be cut.

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.

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.

September 12, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

Defense customers are driving change; this effort tries to map the future.

The new Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) strategic plan lines up many of the diverse information technology thrusts that are whirring throughout the Defense Department, according to an agency official. Tony Montemarano, director for strategic planning and information at DISA, states that the plan’s main goal is to codify where DISA is headed. This direction is fueled by demand signals from the Defense Department, particularly in high-mileage areas such as the Joint Information Environment, mobility initiatives and cloud services.

September 1, 2012
By Rita Boland
 
Stephen Guerin of Simtable showcases his solution to the common operational picture portion of the second PlugFest mash-up challenge. Guerin won first place in the event.  
January 2012
By Max Cacas, SIGNAL Magazine

The need to do more with less dictates crucial changes in national security procurement.

Top U.S. military officials are warning that the current fiscal crisis is the single biggest threat to the country’s national security. And, the most critical concern facing the United States is ensuring that it has the resources necessary to maintain its security globally—and that it is prepared for the challenges ahead.

In fiscal years to come, the U.S. Defense Department must make major changes to the way it deals with the competing forces of decreased financial resources and continually morphing security challenges.

December 2008
By Maryann Lawlor

 
The new Marine One, the presidential helicopter, is one example of how the government adds military specifications to commercial products, causing cost overruns. It is estimated that the cost of the fleet of 28 helicopters has nearly doubled from the original contract amount.
Procurement environment calls for more personnel, training and options.

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