Tag Archives: July-August 2015

Defense AT&L: July – August 2015

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Program Manager Assessments: Professionalism Personified

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Author: Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics

A few months ago, I decided to ask all of our Acquisition Category I and Major Automated Information System (MAIS)  program managers (PMs) to provide me with a one- to three-page assessment of the state of their programs. At the time, this was an experiment. From the feedback I received, most PMs were delighted to have this opportunity. I have incorporated these assessments into Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0 as an activity that will continue on an annual basis. The assessments are intended to strengthen the role of the acquisition chain of command. The assessments are simultaneously sent to me, the Service or Component acquisition executive, and the program executive officer. It was, however, an experiment that seemed to make a lot of people nervous.

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Integrating Innovation Keeping the Leading Edge

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Author: Kevin Fahey

Fahey is executive director for System of Systems Engineering and Integration in the U.S. Army’s office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. He is a member of the Senior Executive Service and previously was the Program Executive Officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support and Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems.

From the Jeep to the Internet to GPS, there was a time when the U.S. military led the way in inventing technologies that would later become dominant in the general public.

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The Challenge of Technological Superiority

Author: Alan Shaffer

Shaffer is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (PD ASD[R&E]).

For more than 25 years, the United States has had a dominant military advantage over any potential adversary. The underpinning of that advantage was the superior platforms and systems enabled by our technology. The technological superiority of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is at the greatest risk in recent history, and this erosion occurs while ideological, economic, political, military and technological threasts proliferate to national and international security. Future engagements will require greater technological capability to operate in what I call the “commons”: electronic warfare; missile defense; precision, navigation and timing; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; integrated air defense; cyber; and weapons of mass destruction.

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Removing Bureaucracy

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Author: Katharina G. McFarland

McFarland is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition.

I once managed a new start program to deliver a revolutionary warfighting capability in Battlefield Management/Command and Control. The Service sponsor was very engaged and supportive of the new program’s requirements. However, when we did the cost estimate, it was clear that the cost would break the threshold of an Acquisition Category (ACAT) I program.

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Owning the Technical Baseline—a Key Enabler: Agility as the Counterweight to Uncertainty and Change

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Author: William A. LaPlante, Ph.D.

LaPlante is the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), Dr. LaPlante oversees a research and development, test, production and modernization program portfolio of more than $32 billion annually. He also is responsible for development and execution of policies and procedures in support of the Air Force acquisition system. He has more than 29 years of experience in defense technology including positions at the MITRE Corporation and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

The basic acquisition environment involves constant change. The threat to United States interests is going to change, technology is going to change and warfighters will discover different ways to use their equipment. In order for weapon systems to accommodate these certain yet—in specific terms—often unpredicted future changes, we must design systems up front to be constantly modified, perhaps in ways that we may not be able to anticipate now but will discover in the future. This fundamentally means we must embrace adaptability as a basic precept for how we develop, procure and sustain our weapons systems to be effective for the warfighter over their life cycles.

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Improving Tradecraft of Services Acquisition

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Authors: Alan Estevez and Ken Brennan

Estevez is Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L). Brennan is Deputy Director, Services Acquisition (Defense Procurement Policy and Acquisition Policy, AT&L).

The Department of Defense (DoD) spent more than $156 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2014, or more than 55 percent of DoD’s total contract obligations, buying contracted services. In other words, the DoD spent more money buying contracted services than it spent buying major weapons systems in FY 2014.

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Getting the Requirements Right

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Author: Sean J. Stackley, USN

Stackley is Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition.

Dr. Jim Colvard, a long-time executive and engineering leader in the Department of the Navy, once said, “The deployed Navy sleeps on its ordnance, operates far from supply lines, and is consequently compelled to understand the technical details of its own weapons and platforms.”
For the Navy and Marine Corps, that philosophy informs the way we acquire our ships, aircraft, armored vehicles and weapon systems. In other words, the Navy that “sleeps on its ordnance” is a Navy that must understand the technical details of its weapons and platforms long before, and after, industry is contracted to produce them. That culture and expectation of technical ownership is partly what couples the Navy requirements community closely to the Navy acquisition community, and vice versa.

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Tasked and Ready: The Army’s Commitment to the Better Buying Power Program

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Author: Heidi Shyu

Shyu is the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, a position she has held since Sept. 21, 2012. As the ASA(ALT), she is the Army Acquisition Executive, the Senior Procurement Executive, the Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Army, and the Army’s Senior Research and Development (R&D) official. Shyu leads the execution of the Army’s acquisition function and the acquisition management system. Her responsibilities include providing oversight for the life-cycle management and sustainment of Army weapons systems and equipment from R&D  through test and evaluation, acquisition, logistics, fielding and disposition.

The Army is charged with maintaining readiness and technological overmatch in an era of increasing threats and decreasing budgets. Since 2011, the last full year of engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army’s Research, Development and Acquisition (RDA) base budget has decreased by one-third, with fiscal year 2015 funding now at $20 billion. This decrement has necessitated cancellation of certain programs, and has stretched other programs’ schedules. In addition, per-unit equipment costs have increased as procurement quantities have dropped.

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Reward Industry for Innovative Outcomes

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Authors: RADM Allie Coetzee, USN

Coetzee is Acting Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

The overarching theme of Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0 is achieving dominant capabilities through technical excellence and innovation. To help achieve these goals, the Department of Defense (DoD) is reexamining business arrangements, so we can: (1) attract and enable a broader array of industry participants; (2) employ techniques that will motivate industry to deliver tangible results that advance combat capabilities; and (3) recognize that deliberate speed is required to stay ahead and remain on the cutting edge.

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