Authors: Jeffrey D. From, Debbie S. Couch, Calvin S. Johnson
The Mission Command Battle Lab (MCBL) works regularly with a variety of organizations pushing the technological envelope within the mission command warfighting function (WfF). This paper shares the MCBL’s experience with the Army Regulation (AR) 5-5 study process and with using the study results while collaborating with other organizations to provide tangible benefits to the Army.
For at least four times since World War II, competitive prototyping has been highly encouraged, if not mandated, as a preferred approach to major systems acquisition in the Department of Defense. Its repeated encouragement is due in part to its description as a best practice by organizations like the Government Accountability Office, RAND, and specially formed task forces like the Packard Commission. In most instances, competitive prototyping is presented as a tool for stoking creative thought, for improving decision-making, and for leading to better acquisition outcomes. In other instances, its value has been questioned. In practice, competitive prototyping has not always delivered on its promises. Part of its mixed results has been attributed to widespread confusion over the meaning of terms and how prototyping should be pursued on a competitive basis. Building off lessons learned, this paper provides an overview of prototyping accompanied by a description of how competitive prototyping has and could be practiced better within the Department of Defense. The terms “prototype” and “prototyping” are defined as is an approach to competitive prototyping explained. Law and regulation make brief appearances, but both give way to recorded experience. Throughout, lessons learned, best practices, and other considerations are highlighted to better position the Defense Department to implement the competitive prototyping requirements of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009.
Prototyping has long been recognized as an effective tool for reducing technical risk throughout the development of complex weapons systems. A growing number of leaders in government and industry advocate that it can do so much more. Supporting their claims are recent studies suggesting prototyping can increase the pace and reduce the cost of developing complex systems, enable organizational cultural change, aid acquisition reform, advance the technical skills of the industrial base, and even deter rival nation-states from pursuing paths that threaten our national interests.
Authors: Capt. Paul Overstreet, USN, Bradley Bates, and Duane Mallicoat
A common theme within today’s Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition community is the importance of competition in reducing technical and cost risks, and in ensuring that a program’s technology solution is mature enough based on where the program is located within the acquisition framework. To emphasize how foundational the concept of competition is in today’s acquisition environment, a program’s ability to “promote real competition” is one of the five major areas comprising DoD’s Better Buying Power initiative identified to improve organizational and program efficiencies.