This month, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.) likens the state of government technology to that of an 8-track tape player in an iPod world, thanks to a bloated procurement process:
If people want changes in the way the Defense Department procures and manages information technology (IT), then it may be time for them to put their money where their mouths are. The department is proposing sweeping reforms that will revolutionize every aspect of IT procurement and management. If successful, these reforms conceivably could address all of the IT acquisition complaints that have been echoing across the department. All this effort needs is a buy-in from all of the players. Elizabeth A.
Yesterday's blog coverage was just too short to include the depth of advice the experts at the Small Business Intelligence Forum shared, so here are a few more ideas: -Savvy SIGNAL Scape reader Ross Andrews, ARC Program Manager, Contractor - BVTI, beat this reporter to the punch on a very important item that should be on every small company's list if it wants to do business with the intelligence community: register with the Acquisition Resource Center. See his full comment at http://bit.ly/bXmzFM.
It's sometimes difficult to figure out what's the bigger secret - intelligence or the acquisition processes of the organizations that gather it. CIA, NSA, DIA plus 13 more agencies are collectively known as the intelligence community (IC), but that's where most of the similarity ends when it comes to these information hunters and gathers when it comes to purchasing goods, services or "carbon units." One fact is absolutely true and as open source as is possible: small businesses have advocates in IC agencies that fight tooth and nail in their interest. Some of these experts presented valuable secrets as well as common sense about how to capture the IC's business at the AFCEA International Small Business Intelligence Forum.
Accreditation and certification of software is a vital but time-consuming process. On Tuesday afternoon, panelists at the AFCEA SOLUTIONS symposium discussed the challenge and ongoing attempts to streamline the process. Brig. Gen. Peter F. Hoene, USAF, DISA's program executive officer for the Global Command and Control System-Joint (GCCS-J), stated that there was a need to speed accreditation and certification because the current procedure takes too much time. He noted that some units had even resorted to writing their own software, completely aware of the risks involved in using uncertified programs, because they needed the operational capability.
The final panel of the 2010 Joint Warfighting Conference focused on two topics that have been discussed consistently for more than a decade: lack of interoperability and convoluted acquisition. Though the panelists agreed on the problems, their opinions about solutions differed slightly. Vago Muradian, panel moderater, opened the discussion stating that the need to improve interoperability has been at the heart of the last two administrations and remains a priority in the Obama administration. One topic of particular interest to members of industry in the audience concerned changing import/export rules. Muradian believes that changes to these policies would help ensure interoperability.
DISA's Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition (FCSA) program may open up a wide new world of SATCOM buying options. And the COMSATCOM arena is all abuzz-with negative and positive speculation-about this new DISA/GSA plan that aims to create a common satellite marketplace. In this issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Maryann Lawlor acquires the facts about FCSA's methods and goals in her article, "High-Flying Challenges." The two procurement agencies have already taken steps to make FCSA a reality.
While many conferences suffer from waning interest as panel session after panel session and speaker after speaker present valuable information over two days, this year's AFCEA Homeland Security conference proved to be quite the opposite. The Thursday afternoon sessions were nearly as full as the presentations that took place on Wednesday, at least in part because of the last topic discussion: procurement.
Managing the myriad programs designed to provide border security has proved challenging. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched a variety of technology efforts designed to enhance border security. Likewise, civilian firms are deeply involved with DHS in supporting these programs. Two panels running Wednesday examined the government and industry perspectives of coordinating border security. To adequately track the millions of people crossing U.S. borders every day, the DHS launched the US VISIT program. Initiated in 2004, the program logs and records the identities of foreign nationals entering the United States.
It's rare that an audience of industry and service members at all ranks get the chance to hear first hand from the first of a kind. But that was the case after eating lunch on Wednesday of WEST 2010. Vice Adm. Jack Dorsett, USN, the Navy's first N2/N6 may have begun his speech by wondering why he was among other high-ranking military experts at the conference, but he followed through with revealing the latest approaches the Navy is taking to achieve information dominance. The Navy is developing new mini-road maps of sorts that address nearly a dozen topics, including undersea dominance, maritime ballistic C2 and improved maritime domain awareness.
A person recognizable to anyone who has been in military information technology for a few years offered MILCOM 2009 attendees insights into where the Defense Information Systems Agency is headed. Tony Montemarano, component acquisition executive, DISA, revealed that the agency is working on a campaign plan in which the word "convergence" is used time and time again. The plan, which is in the midst of final modifications, comprises three lines of operations: enterprise infrastructure, command and control, and information sharing.
Richard J. Byrne, vice president, command and control center, The MITRE Corporation, wrapped up the unclassified discussion on the first day of MILCOM 2009 by proposing that today's acquisition problems should be viewed in a different manner. Rather than thinking about how to improve what the U.S. government is doing, perhaps agencies-the U.S. Defense Department included-need to come at the problems from an entirely new direction-a very complex direction. Complexity theory can be applied in a number of areas-from acquisition to cyberthreats, Byrne explained.
BOSTON - October 19, 2009 - MILCOM 2009 opened today with a speech by David Gergen, CNN commentator and editor at-large for US. News and World Report. Gergen, who has worked for four U.S. presidents, pointed out that the relationship between president and military has changed over the past two decades. The differences have evolved as the men who occupied the Oval Office and held the position of commander-in-chief of the military themselves did not have first-hand military experience.
Lt. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, USAF, commander, Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, delivered the luncheon speech at MILCOM 2009. Gen. Bowlds stated that the world is changing so fast that it is impossible to predict what innovations will develop as well as threats the U.S. will face in the next 10 to 15 years. "Five years out is about all we can go," he said. Although irregular warfare is the buzzword today, in the spectrum of conflict, it doesn't represent any more than 10 percent to 15 percent of the threat today, he said.
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. These were the tough issues experts discussed at AFCEA International's SOLUTIONS Series event today.
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.
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.