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We use the phrase “best value” fairly often, usually to describe the type of source-selection process or evaluation criteria we will use in a competitive acquisition. Under the Better Buying Power initiatives, we have emphasized using a more monetized and less subjective definition of best value. As a way to spur innovation, we also have emphasized communicating the “value function” to the offerors so they can bid more intelligently.
This is the second of two articles by the author about international defense system sales. The first article, “International Arms Sales, An Industry Perspective” was published in the September-October 2014 issue of Defense AT&L. This article identifies several key components of an international defense system pursuit and focuses on the U.S. defense industry’s (and to some degree the U.S. Government’s) in-country campaign to convince international customers that the U.S. solution best meets a given country’s overall requirements. It is based on the author’s experience in actual international campaigns, and the methodology and actions discussed are intended to provide a notional approach to what often is a complex process.
Industry continues to raise concerns about the perceived overuse by the Department of Defense (DoD) of the Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source-selection process.
In appropriate circumstances, combined with effective competition and proper contract type, LPTA can drive down costs and provide the government with a best-value solution. Using LPTA can also simplify and streamline the selection process and deliver precisely the product or service required by the warfighter. Detractors argue LPTA drives us to only a “low cost, low quality” solution, stifles innovation and squeezes corporate margins due to downward pressure on price. Furthermore, industry contends, overusing LPTA in the long haul will erode the DoD technological edge through low-cost/low-performance solutions; cause performance innovators to depart the market and reduce the quality of goods and services provided.
The Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source-selection method is overused, and that overuse harms the products and services that our warfighters rely on. While LPTA has a proper function in the acquisition of commodities and commoditized services, the increased use of the LPTA in recent years means that the tool has expanded into other areas where it does not belong.
“We want to tell industry more clearly what has value to us so they’ll be able to bid more intelligently, so they’ll be able to make their own technology investment decisions more intelligently.”
—Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Defense News, Sept. 22, 2014.
Effective cybersecurity in Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition programs is a top concern for both DoD program managers (PMs) and the DoD as a whole. What can be done to help DoD PMs meet this challenge? An emerging concept is the establishment of a “Cyber Integrator” (CI) at the Program Executive Office (PEO)/Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) level, to help address cybersecurity risk in DoD acquisition programs. The purpose of the CI is to lead the cybersecurity efforts within the PEO/MDAP, and that role includes effectively integrating cybersecurity across all functional domains and acting as principal advisor to the PM on all cybersecurity matters. A CI by itself will not mitigate all the cybersecurity challenges faced by DoD PMs, but based on the emerging results of an ongoing Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) pilot program, the CI concept appears to be a step in the right direction.
It’s a familiar image: a Soldier crouching with a radio, next to a spidery antenna pointing skyward to reach a distant satellite. But that view of military communications is on the verge of change—being replaced by troops rapidly exchanging data while moving seamlessly around the battlespace.
President Obama recently authorized deployment of as many as 1,500 additional American troops to support Iraqi forces in the region in the continued resistance to the insurgent, self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), possibly raising the total U.S. troop numbers there to about 3,100, according to a Nov. 7, 2014, article in the Wall Street Journal. This will cost $5.6 billion as part of a long-term campaign to conduct counterterrorism operations across the Middle East and North Africa.
According to a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast, by 2015 about 70 million members of the millennial generation will enter the workforce and by 2030 will make up 75 percent of all working professionals. As managers in the acquisition profession, are you ready to lead members of this generation who have been labeled “pampered,” “nurtured” and kept busy with myriad activities since they were toddlers?