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FCW : July 15, 2014
Improving defense acquisition is a perennial topic of congressional hearings, but reform doesn t mean the same thing to everyone. The dif- fering demands of legislators and the cultural factors inside the Defense Department might be part of what makes acquisition reform so tough. At a June 24 hearing of the House Armed Serv- ices Committee, a panel of former DOD of cials and policy experts heard from lawmakers who were worried that acquisition was too bogged down in red tape, too expensive, too friendly to longtime incumbent contractors and inimical to small-business participa- tion --- and also occasionally rushed at the expense of an enterprisewide approach. "I believe the causes for our dis- content with the performance of the acquisition system do not lie in the laws and regulations," said retired Navy Vice Adm. David Venlet. "It s underly- ing decisions that are made that try to respond to the years of acquisition reform pressures.... Do this faster, do this cheaper. That pressure has an Is culture the key to acquisition reform at DOD? anonymous bidders' email addresses were revealed during a U.S. Marshals Service auction of some 30,000 bitcoins 40 Trending unintended consequence of suppress- ing the practice of good sound funda- mentals and realism." Elizabeth McGrath, former deputy chief management officer at DOD, said her tenure taught her that rapid prototyping and revision, strong program management and exible contracting that allows for changes in require- ments are essential to effec- tive technology acquisition. But having a strategy and executing it are two differ- ent things. McGrath, who is now with Deloitte Consulting, said the depart- ment is still in the midst of a cultural shift from maintaining a staff of dedi- cated coders to grooming program managers with expertise in acquiring and deploying commercial products for use in DOD business systems. Staffing and culture have "not kept up with the way the technology evolved," McGrath said, and "the train- ing isn t focused...enough on how to enable a better implementation." Data transparency is another area for possible reform, said Christopher Lamb, a distinguished research fel- low at National Defense University. Currently, analytical resources are concentrated in the individual mili- tary services. "They own the data, the models and the trained personnel for evaluating trade-offs," he said. Those of cials are erce defenders of their own programs and prerogatives, and they can supply data and arguments to support their decisions. Therefore, xing the problem isn t a matter of rewriting acquisition rules, he said, but instead requires a deep, structural change in the way military leadership is organized. There are moves at DOD and Con- gress to reform military procurement, with Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, leading efforts at the Pentagon, and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, exploring options in the House. But if history is any guide, a lasting solution will prove elusive. "This is something we ve done over and over, but I m con dent that this time it s going to be perfect," joked committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). --- Adam Mazmanian FCW CALENDAR Health IT The National Defense Industrial Association and Bloomberg Government will explore the Defense Health Agency s impact on federal contracting. Online. http://is.gd/FCW_dha Business process management At this FCW event, Forrester Research s Clay Richardson will discuss ways to make the business case for reinventing agency processes. Washington, D.C. http://is.gd/FCW_bpm 7/31 7/22 July 15, 2014 FCW.COM 3 Acquisition The Defense Information Systems Agency will present its 2014 Forecast to Industry, which details DISA s acquisition plans for scal 2015 and 2016. Fort Meade, Md. http://is.gd/FCW_disa 8/20 Elizabeth McGrath ZAID HAMID
June 15, 2014
July 30, 2014