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One of the seven goals of Better Buying Power 2.0 is to improve the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce. I thought it might be useful to provide some specificity about what I have in mind when I talk about professionalism. The following is based on various experiences over my career, including some formal education on the nature of professionalism in the military, including at venues like West Point and the Army War College, in my on-the-job training in program management and systems engineering by various Air Force colonels in the Ballistic Missile Office, and by mentors in the Army’s Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Command. I don’t intend this to be an academic discussion, however, but a hands-on practical application of the term “professional” in the context of defense acquisition.
Acquisition professionals know that program schedules should be established via “event-driven” planning. But what is the distinction between a schedule- versus an event-driven program? The author proposes that schedule-driven programs are distinguished not by whether they are behind schedule or have little margin, but by how management sets and controls schedules.
The office now responsible for overseeing developmental test and evaluation (DT&E) was created four decades ago to oversee all test and evaluation (T&E) in the Department of Defense (DoD). In the January–February 2014 issue of Defense AT&L magazine, I described David Packard’s response to the Blue Ribbon Defense Panel in shaping the original office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) responsible for T&E oversight. In this article, I describe the DoD’s efforts over the past 40 years to shape T&E oversight organizations to help improve acquisition outcomes. Ultimately, this article is intended to provoke a rethinking of how we, as testers and as members of the acquisition community, can better help programs provide enhanced capabilities to our warfighters in an effective and timely manner. If that is not our top priority, then I think we may be in the wrong business.
The USD(AT&L) Workforce Achievement Award was established to recognize and motivate individuals who have demonstrated excellent performance in the acquisition of products and services for the Department of Defense (DoD). This program recognizes DoD military members and civilian personnel who represent the best in the acquisition workforce.
For those not familiar with Norman Augustine’s laws, they are a collection of 52 observations first published in 1983 by Augustine, former president and chief operating officer of Martin Marietta Corp. While the laws are humorous, they also offer interesting insights into the tough realities of defense acquisition.
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Cyber acquisition professionals need to develop a wide range of expertise, not strive to become experts at any one discipline. The concept of subject matter experts (SME) that permeates the government information technology (IT) profession today must shift to nurture the concept of encouraging the workforce members to diversify their experience. It is more important than ever to develop diverse expertise through a rapid paradigm shift in thinking.
The last several years witnessed both commercial industry and the Department of Defense (DoD) logistics supply chains trending toward an increased reliance on Just in Time (JIT) inventory management. Improvements in technology lending to affordable access at virtually every logistical level, coupled with nearly uniform success by businesses adopting such principles, drive this trend.
In this era of increased emphasis on cost constraints and affordability, we often ask, “How much will this cost?” Within an Earned Value Management (EVM) context, the answer is found in the Estimate at Completion, or EAC. EACs are discussed in various venues from a technical manager’s office at a prime contractor facility to a crowded conference room at the Pentagon. All eyes become fixated on “the number.”
The Air Force (AF) develops some of the premier military business professionals in the world—but it can do even better. It has to if its next generation of leaders is expected to effectively navigate the ever-evolving defense acquisition landscape while simultaneously ensuring the materiel readiness of the force. The notion that the AF, and the Department of Defense (DoD), should invest in the professionalism of its workforce is widely discussed and seldom criticized. Examples of recent deliberation are easy to find.