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My first inclination for this issue’s article was to discuss the newly released DoDI 5000.02. We recently implemented this new acquisition policy document as interim guidance. I provided a cover letter explaining why I had done a new version and outlined some of the features of this edition. I do recommend that you look at both the cover letter and the new document, but on reflection I decided to write about something else for this issue. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into designing our processes and implementing them, but at the end of the day it isn’t those processes or policy documents like 5000.02 that really drive our results. What really matters in defense acquisition is our people and their professionalism and leadership—so I thought I would start the new year by writing about that.
In 1959, renowned physicist Dr. Richard Feynman proposed the idea of very tiny machines that could perform micro-level tasks with macro-level effects. Today such machines exist, measuring only millimeters, with gears and levers smaller than dust mites. In smart phones, they change display orientations as you move the phone, and in cars, they collect speed, acceleration and steering data, sending that data to an in-vehicle network.
A serious discussion is under way within the defense community on the strategic direction of future space system acquisitions. Among the questions being addressed:
Now that the difficulties with our major, large, aggregated space systems seem to have been overcome, should the United States simply continue and/or improve these systems over time? Or should we go quickly toward small-satellite, platform-focused, distributed-system architectures?,/p>
For more than 50 years, the Department of Defense (DoD) has relied on Research and Engineering (R&E) to provide the nation with the technology-based operational capability superiority that protects U.S. forces and helps to ensure national security. DoD’s scientists and engineers work daily with industry and academia to conceive, develop and mature concepts into capabilities that provide an operational advantage to our warfighters.
“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full.”
Schedules are important. As government acquisition officials, we want things delivered at the time we agreed they would be delivered and for what we agreed to pay. We want to know whether something is going to be late or over cost. Contractor-delivered schedules can help the government program manager (PM) answer some of these important questions. However, a contractor schedule rightly focuses only on contract scope and not on the entire program picture.
Software reliability poses a significant challenge for the Army as software is increasingly important in a broad range of applications. The safety, welfare and effectiveness of our Soldiers directly depend on the ability of software to perform as intended and operate reliably in adverse and austere conditions. The ability of the Defense Department (DoD) to provide a high level of Soldier services while minimizing overhead and other sustainment costs is tied directly to the reliability of large and complex software systems.
In the May-June 2013 issue of Defense AT&L magazine, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall authored an article titled “The Original Better Buying Power—David Packard Acquisition Rules 1971.” Packard’s fifth acquisition rule was “fly before you buy”—the underpinnings of test and evaluation (T&E). I thought it might be interesting to look at another challenge that then Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard confronted in 1971: what to do about test and evaluation in the Department of Defense (DoD). The original Director for Test and Evaluation created by David Packard was a DT&E with broad responsibilities for all T&E matters in the DoD. Today’s DT&E is focused only on Developmental Test and Evaluation. This article provides a brief snapshot into the challenges involved in forming the first DT&E office in the Pentagon and its evolution into the DT&E office today.
In the summer of 2012, Heidi Shyu, the recently confirmed Army Acquisition Executive, directed each Program Executive Office (PEO) to develop a 30-year strategic plan. The plan was to focus on linking science and technology (S&T) projects to programs of record, as well as modernization of existing fielded equipment. Each Army PEO developed its own plan, which mapped its programs of record to capability gaps and known S&T efforts meant to close those gaps. These plans were to address challenges leadership faced in obtaining in-depth information to support fact-based decision making.
Competition throughout the life cycle of an acquisition program not only is possible, it is alive and well in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. This article focuses on the JLTV program and the Better Buying Power 2.0 (BBP 2.0) effort to “Promote Effective Competition.” Although the JLTV program began before BBP 2.0, the overarching concept of competition throughout the life cycle of an acquisition program is not new and remains a key component of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.