Adapting to great power competition requires improved acquisition operations, and the U.S. Defense Department's acquisition headquarters has been busy revamping contracting practices. The efforts are succeeding in reducing contracting burdens, timelines and workforce hours, and is bringing in more innovation into the DOD, its top leader reports.
acquisition and contracting
The U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the U.S. Army Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team intends to award an other transaction agreement to QinetiQ North America to build four light and to Textron to build four medium Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs).
Between now and Valentine’s Day, the U.S. Defense Department will begin to build out its unclassified department-wide cloud platform, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, known as JEDI. And approximately six months after that, DOD will stand up its secret cloud environment, followed later by the top secret cloud, all part of JEDI, reported Dana Deasy, Defense Department chief information officer, at the AFCEA Nova Chapter’s Air Force IT Day in Arlington, Va., last Thursday.
The modernization, proliferation and commoditization of electronics make contending with peer and near-peer adversaries more difficult, according to Chuck Hoppe, director of science, technology and engineering at the U.S. Army’s Combat Capability Development Command C5ISR Center. “For every good thing we bring out of technology, someone inevitability wants to use it for nefarious purposes. That has been the biggest change in the past 20 years, and it’s what made things significantly more deadly and lethal,” he says.
The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DITCO) is reducing their contracting fee for enterprise acquisition services from 2.5% to 2.25% starting on October 1st, 2019 according to a recent release by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). This will be coinciding with the start of fiscal year 2020.
In a statement, Christopher Barnhurst, DISA’s chief financial officer said, “DITCO’s dedication to controlling costs while evolving service offerings has resulted in the ability to lower fees to customers, thereby enabling reinvestment into lethality for the DOD."
As the Defense Department’s acquisition and sustainment office works to improve the military’s contracting processes, the research and engineering component—newly separated from acquisition and sustainment in a major reorganization last year—is ready for industry advancements, said Doug Schroeder, DASD Space, Strategic and Intelligence Systems and deputy director, National Intelligence Division, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
The Defense Department is pursuing acquisition improvements to improve the effectiveness of its solicitation processes, to advance the cybersecurity of needed solutions and to meet rising adversarial threats, according to Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.
“We have made significant progress in the field of acquisition reform in 2018,” Lord said. “And in 2019 we will continue efforts to improve the way the department does business.”
The General Services Administration’s current 8(a) STARS II, a small business set-aside governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), expires in July 2021, and acquisition experts believe the competition for the follow-on contract should begin this year to avoid a lapse in ordering periods.
“Because there will be hundreds of bids to evaluate and there may be protests, the GSA should issue the request for proposal for 8(a) STARS III by July 2019 in order to ensure that there’s no break between STARS II and STARS III,” says Stephanie Mitchell, a U.S. Defense Department and federal government acquisition specialist with BD Squared LLC.
The U.S. Air Force awarded 51 companies contracts with a total initial value of $8.75 million at the Inaugural Air Force Pitch Day. The average amount of time to award contracts and pay companies via government credit card following a successful pitch was 15 minutes; the fastest occurred in only three minutes. Previously, the fastest award of a contract of this type was approximately 90 days.
Small businesses will be invited to submit their best solutions to the U.S. Air Force for the opportunity to participate in pitch sessions scheduled for March 6-7, 2019. Prior to the event, the service will reveal a list of requirements, requesting five-page white papers from organizations describing their products or services. Businesses offering the solutions with most potential will be asked to take part in the two-day event and could receive a one-page contract immediately.
“We did an experiment where we wanted to do 50 contracts in 50 hours. We ended up doing 104 contracts with small business, and that was kind of a dry run [for the upcoming event],” U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said.
To ensure greater supply availability of certain technologies, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is pursuing a concept not widely used in the military, reports Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, USA, commander of the organization and senior commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The command has started a pilot program that will allow the service to option intellectual property rights in specific hardware and software contracts, Gen. Taylor says.
The U.S. Defense Department released the formal request for proposal (RFP) for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, seeking solicitations for cloud-related services.
"We are excited by the level of interest in JEDI Cloud and appreciate industry's participation throughout the draft solicitation process," DOD stated. "We are confident that these inputs helped us to refine and clarify the DOD's requirement represented in this RFP."