Acquisition approach we are working our way through is how can we provide Navy and Marine Corps leaders and the fleets they represent a wide range of capabilities and do that at an affordable costs that can maintain supplier base.
Can’t have one-trick platforms and can’t have too many platforms all completely unique.
What we’ve done to separate combat systems and put common systems across platforms helps from a maintenance standpoint and helps with training.
Having interchangable and modular systems better integrates requirements and acquisition planning so they aren’t done in hand-off vacuums that are transactional.
We can achieve better acquisition outcomes by creating much more integrated teams looking at that and as we add these new types of ships we’ve got to be very smart as we approach difficult task of building a fleet that can fight and win.
Navy continues to increase capacity, lethality, and availability with the shipbuilding, aviation, and expeditionary programs. New capabilities are continually being delivered to the fleet and retrofitted on existing platforms to provide enhanced lethality and survivability to the warfighter.
Modernization is a vital component of our readiness and hits to our modernization accounts defer future capabilities and infrastructure improvements prolong our reliance on legacy systems that lack the required capabilities for the future. Over time, legacy systems cost more to repair and sustain. Prioritizing modernization, particularly where we can leverage joint buys, will reduce average unit procurement costs and achieve efficiencies.
Navy is aggressively pursuing efforts to accelerate acquisition timelines and schedules and further drive affordability into our programs, in order to deliver capability to our warfighters faster and be as effective as possible within our resources. As we look at cost, sustainment encompasses the majority, yet it receives little focus in our research and development portfolio. Many commercial technologies and practices—advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, Digital Twins—have the potential to reduce cost while simultaneously increasing the availability of our systems.
Prototyping provides an excellent method for managing cost while maturing both technologies and requirements. allowing for transitioning from basic analysis of capabilities to systems of systems analysis to resolve integration of capabilities with existing systems or platforms. Each prototyping effort is worked in partnership with Program Offices, providing engineering, test, and contracting expertise to speed development and transition when concepts succeed.
An acquisition pathway is the execution route a program takes from inception-- identification of a materiel solution need to completion. The pathway is defined by a series of rule-based activities, milestones, and decision points. Acquisition executive or portfolio manager can establish tailored acquisition pathways into a program-specific model to enable programs to navigate the complex acquisition environment faster by having pre-filtering and clearly identifying the specific processes, documents, and reviews relevant for that type of acquisition. This is an upfront enterprise/portfolio investment to enable acceleration of current and future programs.
If a Service or Portfolio Acquisition Executive approves these models for their organization, programs no longer have to request tailoring permission and obtain waivers from multiple oversight organizations. Programs can operate with pre-authorization to streamline specific procedures and documents based on the type of product or service being acquired.
Each acquisition program has unique requirements and features; however, several categories or groupings of acquisitions could benefit from having their own tailored acquisition model. DoD could develop a suite of proactively tailored acquisition models to cover a broad range of commonly acquired products and services, such as aircraft, ships, ground vehicles, space systems, missile/munition, communications and networks, business systems, and technical services. Conversely they can be designed around acquisition type or methodology.
In acquisition enterprises, each program navigates the acquisition life cycle independently. Initial conceptual requirements drive program budgets, scope and solution space. Acquisition programs design, develop, test and produce individual systems that meet a defined set of requirements within an allocated budget. However, today’s complex and ever-changing environment requires integrated systems and services to produce capabilities greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Analyzing alternatives and making trade-off decisions at the broader enterprise level rather than the program level would provide an opportunity to optimize performance, costs and/or risks. Guiding large systems independently through the acquisition life cycle over a period of 10 to 20 years has proven inefficient. Agencies can vastly improve the performance and outcomes of its acquisition system by incrementally delivering integrated capabilities via acquisition portfolios that feature tailored processes.
Just as industry constructs product lines, agencies can structure acquisition portfolios around the system-of-systems concept. A portfolio could decompose large systems into multiple smaller programs, projects or increments, and group those that contain similar capabilities, commercial off-the-shelf products, and services.
For example, a portfolio for command and control or logistics could develop a suite of applications and services that run on a common infrastructure platform. Aircraft portfolios could be based on a common airframe with different payloads, or on different airframes using common subsystems such as engines, communication suites or avionics software.
This approach would not require a new top-down-driven structure; portfolio leaders could start today by grouping a few related programs and tailoring a structure and process for increased efficiencies. Acquisition executives could scale up these initial efforts after demonstrated success.
The early phases of a traditional program could have a broader aperture in a portfolio approach, opening up the potential solution space As envisioned, acquisition programs would be smaller than the programs used for today’s major systems, scoped in three- to five-year development increments. Smaller programs carry lower risk, as they simplify design, cost and schedule estimates— and ultimately delivery. Once managers effectively scope a program, operational and acquisition stakeholders develop and approve a subordinate set of requirements and acquisition documents.
By adopting the commercial product-line approach, agencies would address longstanding issues associated with acquisition speed, agility and system interoperability. Elevating the time-consuming acquisition processes to the portfolio level would reduce program workload, allowing each program to deliver products faster. In a complex, integrated environment, agency acquisition systems can no longer rely on a structure based on individual systems but rather should embrace a capability-focused, portfolio-centric structure modeled on the commercial sector. Managing requirements, budgets and staffs at the portfolio level would enable dynamic allocation to high-priority programs. Portfolio strategies, roadmaps and architectures would guide program development.
An active DoD and industry portfolio community must collaboratively develop technologies and designs and employ continuous competition to develop and produce the individual programs. Portfolios would design and optimize acquisition processes to deliver a suite of smaller programs rapidly, ensuring that warfighters regularly receive incremental capabilities that incorporate the latest technologies designed to achieve their operational missions.
Contracting is often one of the longest lead-items in the acquisition life-cycle, and also one of the riskiest. The time it takes to develop, solicit, and award a contract can inhibit DoD ability to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology advancement. Discovering avenues to speed the contracting process, while also preserving the inherent values of the contracting process is essential.
When it comes to finding the right contracting approach, it is important to understand that there are numerous contracting strategies, tools, and methods available. There is no single “right” way to contract, and that there are several available paths to achieve the desired outcome. It is important to bear in mind that each organization should have a “diversified” contracting approach – just like the private sector companies are advised to diversify investments, organizations should do the same for their contracting strategy.
Often a program or Agency wants to seek the “path of least resistance” or “crack the code” with contracting, only to continue to exploit that contract strategy over and over again. While this may solve short-term or temporary needs, it is not a long-term sustainable strategy, and an organization is best positioned for repeatable success if it can diversify its contracting mechanisms to enable continuous speed, agility, and innovation.
Talk to users about the possibility and probability of additional requirements, however unclear, and any potential quick-reaction needs dependent on Real World situations and the likelihood of needing to have a contract vehicle that can flex to related surges in effort. One easy way to reduce procurement lead time is to add work to existing contracts, even if it’s out of scope.
The biggest benefit to adding work to an existing contract is that the contract and all the lead time that went into writing it and negotiating it has already been done. Terms and conditions are in place and, if the Contractor agrees, you can use what’s already on contract or you can change whatever is necessary without starting from scratch. You may need to add new clauses, depending on how old the contract is, but it’s still faster than starting from zero.
The best way to show the importance of Rapid Acquisition to others, specifically the customer/end user/warfighter, is to drag your Contracting folks kicking and screaming to see what they are buying, to talk to the people needing those products or services, and to demonstrate to them that they are doing more that pushing paper around their desk or words around a screen. You might also be surprised that you don’t have to drag them anywhere—they’ve just never been invited and actually want to understand what they’re buying.
When we want Industry to understand our requirements, we hold Industry Days, allow site visits, show briefings charts and road maps, explain why we need Industry on our team. Why not try something similar with the DoD team, including Contracting, Policy, cost/price analysts, financial managers, Small Business reps, etc.? Not to brainstorm Acquisition Strategy meeting or dig into market research, but so non-program managers have a better idea of what is needed and why—and how their efforts fit into the big picture.
This doesn’t have to be a big deal: it can be as simple as bringing your Contracting team and their staff support into a conference room for an hour or two and showing them the problem that must be solved and who it affects. Show them video of successful—and unsuccessful tests. Show them how hardware fits together and how the guys on the flight line can take it apart and put it together in no time flat and let your Contracting Officer try it, too. Make it a show and tell.
Remember that “prototypes” in design are not like proofs of concept. Their purpose is to facilitate discussion and feedback from customers and stakeholders. Flowcharts, Lego structures, storyboards, and sketches can all be appropriate mediums for an initial prototype
Capture feedback from prototypes and incorporate lessons learned into future iterations of the design process. You may go back to the Problem Exploration phase as a result of prototypes.
The Pentagon believes that, though DoD acquisiton leadership has changed, our mission to support the war fighter through acquisition innovation remains constant and holds much promise for the future. Over the past year, our team has worked to refine the A&S strategy using the National Defense Strategy as our guidebook. Several goals, each with nested sub-priorities, emerged from our senior leadership planning sessions:
1. Enable innovative acquisition approaches that deliver war-fighting capability at the speed of relevance
2. Build a safe, secure and resilient defense-industrial base to include both commercial and organic
3. Ensure safe and resilient DoD installations
4. Increase weapon system mission capability while reducing operating cost
5. Promote acquisition and sustainment initiatives with key international partners
6. Recruit, develop and retain a diverse acquisition and sustainment workforce
7. Measure supply chain partner’s ability to protect sensitive information through an independent third-party certification
8. Adopt a framework capability to cut extra bureaucratic process by choosing pathway based on product/service being acquired
9. Provide assistance in acquisition, licensing and management to protect data rights by ensuring network security at start of progam
10. Strengthen supply chain against adversaries by forming marketplace where tech service companies connect with trusted investors