By Julia Bobick, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (April 15, 2014) — It’s been a learning process for the past few years to ensure every new Army Energy Conservation Investment Program project has what it needs from start to finish — from the first photovoltaic module installed to the last foot of cable that securely ties the system into the installation network.
Part of the appropriated fund military construction program, known as MILCON, but funded separately by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Energy Conservation Investment Program, or ECIP, projects are designed to dramatically change energy consumption at an installation or joint base, implement renewable energy technologies and generate and store energy to improve supply resilience for critical loads.
Despite it being a requirement to build information technology, or IT, needs and associated cost estimates into all MILCON project plans to produce a “complete and useable facility,” it has been an often overlooked requirement for ECIP projects — primarily because they don’t look like normal MILCON projects.
Program managers used to dealing with actual buildings have to rethink network solutions for solar arrays and wind turbines in the middle of an open field that still require cabling and communications systems to relay energy data to a central meter and make them secure, according to Karen R. Moore, the ECIP and Resource Efficiency Manager program manager for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville.
The initial planning process requires good communication and thorough coordination between the command or garrison energy manager — the individual who typically initiates an ECIP project — and the Directorate of Public Works, the Network Enterprise Center and the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineer Command, according to Thomas B. Delaney Jr., the Army’s ECIP program manager in the Facilities Policy Division of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management at the Pentagon.
The Huntsville Center — which provides technical assistance for and validates all Army ECIP projects before they can be submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense — hosted its first MILCON Information Systems Planning, Programming and Cost Estimation Workshop specifically for ECIP projects in March. Representatives from the Army Reserve, National Guard Bureau, Army Corps of Engineers and the Installation Management Command participated in the three-day workshop designed to enhance ECIP project planning coordination across the Army and improve cost estimates submitted for ECIP project IT requirements. Tracy Sebold, who validates ECIP project IT requirements for U.S. Army Information Systems Engineer Command at Fort Detrick, Md., also participated in the training to help explain the current process for validating the sufficiency of requested IT support for ECIP projects.
“It’s hard for a garrison energy manager to be an expert in wind, solar and geothermal technologies, and develop a really thorough [DD Form] 1391. We provide them a team of experts who can help them develop a robust plan for a project that will accomplish their goals,” Moore said.
The DD Form 1391, the automated form used to document all MILCON project requirements, is part of the package submitted through Army to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for approval and funding.
Beginning with those being submitted for fiscal year 2016 funding, ECIP projects are being looked at with a more holistic approach to ensure every aspect of the project is accurately documented on the DD Form 1391 — to include Tab F, which details the information systems cost estimate — and all responsible parties are involved in the planning and development process.
Understanding that technologies might change from the initial plan to the actual building phase — especially when it comes to IT requirements, Moore emphasized the DD Form 1391 is a living planning document with cost estimates for what will be needed for the project at completion — a sort of placeholder with funding.
“The ultimate goal — after all [fiscal year 2016] projects are installed — is that we can push a button and tell exactly what the energy savings are for the entire program,” Moore said. “To make that a reality, we’ve got to get the fiber cable to the wind turbines to collect the data, and that cabling — and all associated cost estimates — to connect it from point A to point B need to be part of the initial plan.”
How well the Army is executing current projects is vital to securing future funding, Delaney said.
“Bottom line is that when an ECIP project is complete it should either be saving energy or generating energy, but there should be some number coming out,” Delaney explained. “Right now for too many of them there is just no number at all.”
Moore and Delaney also emphasized the importance of focusing energy conservation program efforts on mission critical projects so the right projects receive funding.
“It’s critically important for installations and agencies to develop an energy plan with defined and measurable goals, and then determine where their projects fit in that plan and how they help meet your energy conservation goals, like reducing your energy intensity footprint or meeting your 25 percent renewable energy goals,” Delaney said.
The Army competes with all other military services and agencies for a piece of the $150 million ECIP funding pie appropriated by Congress. Additionally, ECIP projects are prioritized within the four categories: 60 percent of projects are energy efficiency, 25 percent renewable energy, 10 percent energy security and 5 percent water conservation.
For the past three years the Army has had just under $50 million in ECIP projects funded by DOD — about half of what was submitted. The typical ECIP project is about $4 to $5 million, with projected energy savings greater than $750,000 and a savings-to-investment ratio of greater than 1 for renewable energy and water conservation projects and 1.25 for energy efficiency projects.
“We’ve got to strategically develop our projects across the Army — not only to forecast and meet the needs of our agencies and installations, but to secure the funding from OSD to move forward and continue reducing energy consumption and improving energy security,” Moore said.
The Huntsville Center ECIP team not only validates Army ECIP projects, they also share their expertise with Army, Army Reserve and National Guard command and garrison energy managers and staff to help develop the most robust projects to meet their energy conservation program goals. For more information or assistance with projects, call the Huntsville Center ECIP team at (256) 895-1417.
Army.mil: Energy News
STAND-TO: Net Zero Strategy
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Huntsville Center on Facebook
Learn more about the DD Form 1391 Processor System
Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Missions
More about Tooele Army Depot’s alternative energy corridor
Army Energy Initiatives Task Force
STAND-TO: Energy Initiatives Task Force
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By Kristen Kushiyama
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Congressmen, U.S. Army senior executive service members and other military officials gathered at the Joint Base’s Lakehurst section for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site of a future Army research and development aircraft hangar here April 11.
Reps. Jon Runyan and Chris Smith from New Jersey’s third and fourth districts joined leaders from the Army’s research and development community and the Army Corps of Engineers for a symbolic “first dig” at the hangar site slated for completion January 2016. The Research, Development and Engineering Command’s communications-electronics center, or RDECOM CERDEC, hosted the event.
The Army awarded Pennsylvania-based Bedwell Company a $42 million contract for the 107,000 square foot facilities construction overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New York District.
Located on the only tri-service joint base in the country, the hangar will be a much-needed addition to the CERDEC Flight Activity, which is managed by the CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, or I2WD. The CERDEC Flight Activity provides a unique development and integration capability to government agencies, academic institutions or industry partners with valid Defense Department missions.
The new hangar and immediate surrounding area will include high-bay and low-bay aircraft hangars, aircraft-component maintenance shops, administrative facilities, a fixed-wing taxiway and a rotary-wing landing pad, said Henry Muller, CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare director.
The space has “joint military-use potential” meaning that other Defense Department organizations could use the hangar, said Charles V. Maraldo, CERDEC I2WD Flight Activity director.
The hangar will support future mission requirements of the CERDEC I2WD Flight Activity, which provides end-to-end aviation support for emerging C4ISR technologies, quick-reaction capabilities to units, and post-production aircraft modifications for program executive offices and project managers, said Maraldo.
The increased capabilities and space will allow CERDEC to maintain and expand its support to Defense C4ISR-aviation systems programs.
“CERDEC averages about 40 aircraft research and development modifications every year, and they take place up here providing those new capabilities to the Soldiers,” said Dale Ormond, RDECOM director.
RDECOM, a major subordinate command of the Army Materiel Command, operates throughout the country and develops technology and engineering solutions for U.S. Soldiers.
“At RDECOM we are all about helping a guy or gal on point in the middle of nowhere, execute their mission and come home safely, and that’s what we do every day putting new capabilities in the hands of Soldiers,” said Dale Ormond, RDECOM director.
The new hangar will allow for increased support for the Soldier.
“As the guy who’s been on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan in a different role, you never really know what goes on behind the scenes to have the products and things you need to help you protect your Soldiers, save lives and execute your mission,” said Col. Paul Owen, Commander of the New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“As a Soldier on the ground we certainly realize the dedication and support of your organization [CERDEC] that goes into saving lives,” said Owen.
CERDEC is part of RDECOM, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.
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By Ms. Dawn M. Scott
The Army Contracting Command (ACC) has established a continuous process improvement (CPI) team in its Operations Group that will assist with the implementation of initiatives throughout the command.
“The goal of the CPI program is to document, analyze and improve all of our processes, measure our success along the way and to take the organization to increasingly higher levels of performance. High-performing organizations improve employee morale and customer satisfaction,” said J.R. Richardson, ACC Operations Group director. “I have established very effective Lean Six Sigma programs at other organizations, and I can attest to the great things that CPI programs can do for organizations.”
Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a managerial concept focused on eliminating sources of waste and activities that do not add value to create maximum productivity in an organization.
ACC’s CPI team is led by A.D. Barksdale, CPI deployment director. Barksdale and the CPI team are helping ACC executive directors and commanders prepare strategic plans that will improve areas within their organizations.
“The CPI tool sets, combined with proper formalized training, will help commands achieve their strategic goals and enable auditable, repeatable and agile contracting business processes,” Barksdale said.
Barksdale is a Department of the Army-certified LSS Master Black Belt. The belts—green, black and master black belts—represent the level of training and experience a candidate has.
According to Barksdale, Rebecca Weirick, executive director, ACC – Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is already using the CPI methodology to develop and implement her own strategic plan.
“The ACC headquarters, in conjunction with Aviation and Missile Command CPI teams, are assisting Weirick in identifying potential LSS green belt and black belt candidates as well as securing spaces in the approved training for those candidates. The teams are also helping her identify potential CPI projects imbedded within her strategic plan,” Barksdale said.
LEADERSHIP KEYS SUCCESS
Training a LSS belt candidate takes time and commitment, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs, Richardson said.
“Commanders and center directors should consider employees who are already reviewing contracting packages and work products, conducting and leading peer reviews or writing and implementing policy within your organizations,” Richardson said. “These are people who already know and understand existing processes, therefore they will be most effective when you are trying to implement CPI.”
Ultimately, said Richardson, success of the CPI program lies with each organization’s leadership.
“This is their program. The success it will bring to their organizations, and to ACC as a whole, is contingent on leadership. Our role at the headquarters is to assist them in implementing an effective CPI program in their respective organizations,” Richardson said.
ACC’s CPI team is working with the centers and subordinate commands to identify points of contact to help administer the CPI program at the local level. The team is also trying to provide the necessary resources to train personnel at each location so each organization can become self-sufficient in process improvement, Richardson said.
He said the ACC CPI team will be conducting staff assistance visits during fiscal year 2014 to help executive directors and commanders develop opportunities via project identification and selection workshops. Also during these visits, the team will conduct CPI executive leadership training that outlines the ways in which management can encourage and support Lean Six Sigma candidates who are executing projects on their behalf.
“Many of the centers and field offices are already doing fantastic work on process improvements, but not necessarily in a standardized, repeatable way,” Richardson said. “Our goal is to provide information and assistance to center directors and commanders regarding LSS belt candidates and project selection, training opportunities, process mapping and other LSS tools so that they can implement successful programs at the local level.”
NEW CLASSES PLANNED
This fiscal year the ACC team is developing an “Introduction to Lean” course that will be incorporated into the Contracting Officer Refresher Course and the Contracting Intern Boot Camp, Richardson said.
“Exposure to CPI principles in the early phase of contracting training will enable the junior workforce to embrace methodologies that will assist them throughout their careers, and in the drive to meet the 2020 strategic goals,” Barksdale said.
For more information regarding the CPI program, go to the CPI page on the ACC SharePoint portal.
By Lt. Col. Jim Craig
Do you have acquisition experience that you could use to continue to benefit the U.S. Army? Would you like to gain or hone these valuable skills? The Army Reserve is pursuing qualified officers, noncommissioned officers (NCOs), and civilians for the Army Reserve Acquisition Corps. Whether you are transferring out of the active component or are already in the Army Reserves, you might very well have what the Acquisition Corps needs!
Potential benefits for this move may include, but are not limited to:
- Reserve pay, retirement and status benefits
- Continued education to further industry-recognized Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certifications and Army military education level (MEL)
- requirements, through both resident and distance learning courses
- Potential to serve in both the systems acquisition and contracting fields
- Numerous assignment and training possibilities, both within and outside the continental United States
- Promotion opportunities and continued service to the Army and the nation
- Acquisition certifications and experience that are highly sought after in the U.S. government and the commercial marketplace
Army acquisition personnel acquire technology, supplies, and services for our warfighters and our nation through responsive and innovative support. Both training and leadership are required to create strong, viable, and competent acquisition teams. Officers and NCOs receive the same training and skills as federal government civilian workforce.
There are several career paths open to members of the United States Army Reserve (USAR) Acquisition Corps, and where you serve is dependent upon your personal skill set. The primary military acquisition career fields are program management and contracting but other acquisition fields (i.e. those listed in Chapter 42 of AR 600-3) are also potential options for service. Regardless of the field, the USAR will provide the required training to those personnel that meet the qualifications and have the desire to learn.
For Active duty officers and NCOs, the points of contact at the Army Reserve Sustainment Command (ARSC) are Lt. Col. Patrick O’Leary email@example.com and Mr. Dennis Denton, (205) 795-1693, firstname.lastname@example.org. The ARSC can help you determine (along with your Army Reserve Career Counselor) how to best slot you into an Army Reserve Acquisition position.
Army Reserve officers must first complete a packet as indicated in military personnel message 14-062. Officer packets are vetted prior to the board and then those that are selected/non-selected are notified following the board. Selected applicants are then assisted with finding positions by the ARSC.
NCOs in the Army Reserve follow a similar process. NCOs should be between the ranks of E5(P) and E7 and meet certain, specific educational criteria.
Eligible and interested NCOs must submit packets to be vetted prior to the next board. As NCO reclassification boards occur based on need and the availability of a considered population, and the timing of this process varies. Once selected, NCOs are notified and a personal training plan is developed in conjunction with the ARSC.
Additional points of contact may be obtained by contacting the 915th and 917th Contingency Contracting Battalions (CCBn) at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org respectively, to inquire about joining the ARSC and become part of a ready and relevant group of acquisition professionals. (The 915th and 917th CCBns are in the ARSC chain of command.)
Civilians who work in one of the acquisition fields and are members of the Army Reserve are also eligible for immediate consideration and may use the same points of contact previously listed.
Interested officers and NCOs should keep in mind that there are several ways to reach their ultimate acquisition destination. Be diligent and work the process. Even during this time of drawing down, the USAR Acquisition Corps is growing. We look forward to seeing you in our corps in the very near future!
Lt. Col. Craig has been in the Army Reserve Acquisition Corps since 2005. He has held jobs in both program management and contracting. He has deployed to Iraq as a contingency contracting officer and is currently enrolled in DAU’s PMT 401 course in preparation for his upcoming contracting command tour.
Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson became the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) and the director, acquisition career management on April 4, 2014 during his promotion ceremony. The Hon. Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition executive hosted the event, and was joined by the Hon. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, in welcoming the new (ASA(ALT)) principal military deputy. (U.S. Army photo by Jerome Howard)
‘Army to the Corps’
Electrical engineer helps change the face of aviation
By Steve Stark
The Army’s Ground-Based Sense-and-Avoid System (GBSAA) is the first system of its kind and it’s changing the face of unmanned aviation—and as its deputy product director Mary Ottman is at the heart of the development effort.
It’s a DOD system that the Army has taken the lead on, specifically within the Army’s Project Management Office for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS), and eventually, it’s intended to enable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly without visual observers in commercial airspace controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Deputy product director for GBSAA is just one of many jobs that Ottman has held over nearly 25 years working with the Army as a DA civilian. In some respects, the job is a testament to her curiosity and talent, but in another sense, it’s a tribute to the excellent cooperative education program that got Ottman’s foot in the door at the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center in Redstone Arsenal, Ala., in the first place.
At a time when September 11 was merely another date, Ottman went to work for the Army on that day in 1989 as a cooperative education student. At the time, she thought that she’d work for the Army for a couple of years before going on to industry, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Indeed, she will celebrate her 25th anniversary as an Army civilian this September.
“My father and my uncles were all in the military and I know the sacrifices that they made to serve our country.”
Ottman is, by degree, an electrical engineer with a family legacy of service. Her father served in the Army in Vietnam, and then in the reserves, eventually retiring as a major. He studied nuclear physics and worked in that field in industry, and all the time she was growing up, Ottman said, her dad emphasized education, particularly math and science.
Initially, “a friend of mine talked to me about pursuing electrical engineering and it sounded interesting—I was waffling between computer science and electrical engineering, but went with electrical engineering,” she said. She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in electrical and computer engineering.
When Ottman started working for the Army as a college student in the co-op program, she worked on projects such as transistor-based video electronics design, soldering connections on circuit boards used in the Advanced Kinetic Energy Missile, and then went on to work in software development.
“Literally, as a co-op student, you start getting exposure to real-world applications while you’re in school. [The co-op program] is a great way for students to ‘try before you buy,’ so to speak, to get exposure to all the different projects that are going on. They’ve got computers, software simulation, trainers, propulsion—there are many different areas you can get exposure to at the R&D [research and development] center before you decide what kind of job you want to pursue as a career. It’s a win-win for both the student and the Army. For the student, they can figure out what they want to do. As for the Army, they are building that next generation [of talent], and they’re also getting that student labor to work those tasks and free up engineers to do more complex things.”
“A lot of people think that electrical engineering is home wiring,” she said, laughing. “That’s not it at all. Basically, it’s such a broad field—it’s one of those fields that, in school, you learn a lot of different things, and it depends on what job you get and what you’re interested in” as to where you end up. “So you could end up working at power companies, cell phone companies, in power transmission or you could end up working on circuit boards or semiconductor devices. It’s a versatile degree,” she said. It’s almost like a business degree in the sense that you have a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can go with it. “It really just depends on your interest area.”
Her timing was excellent—using her training and her curiosity, she found her way into writing software, sometimes at the 1’s and 0’s level, and developed just as the standards and the industry were beginning to mature.
Ottman attributes the longevity of her career with the Army to the variety of opportunities the Army has provided. Each time she wanted to advance, the chance to compete for interesting job openings was available. “It seemed like when the time was right, a new opportunity came along.” The Army also provided educational opportunities. Through the Army, she earned her master’s in business administration from Auburn University, and a master’s in management and leadership from Webster University while simultaneously completing a Senior Service Fellowship at Defense Acquisition University.
“It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to be part of a program that is changing the face of aviation.”
FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?
OTTMAN: Currently I am co-managing Ground-Based-Sense-and-Avoid System Development as a Deputy Product Director. Simply put, this system helps an unmanned aircraft detect and avoid other traffic in the sky. For example, when you fly to Orlando, Fla. on your way to Disney World, you fly through the National Airspace System. If your pilot sees other aircraft, he will avoid them. Unmanned aircraft don’t have pilots onboard, and GBSAA allows them to sense and avoid other traffic in the sky. Putting this system in place enables unmanned aircraft to avoid other traffic just like a manned aircraft does in the airspace.
In a nutshell, current FAA regulations require that aircraft be able to see and avoid other aircraft. Since unmanned aircraft systems do not have a pilot on board, they cannot comply with these regulations without additional mitigations. Currently, unmanned aircraft are required to fly with either ground observers watching them from the ground, or they can be followed by chase aircraft such as a Cessna or military aircraft. The purpose is for the observer to alert the unmanned aircraft pilot of potential traffic conflicts with other aircraft such that they can avoid them. GBSAA will allow unmanned aircraft to sense (with the use of ground sensors) other aircraft in the sky and maneuver around them as manned aircraft would.
The more technical answer is that, as Deputy Product Director, I co-manage the development and fielding of the GBSAA. It is the first system of its kind and is changing the face of unmanned aviation. The Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Concepts Product Directorate serves as the DOD lead for GBSAA. While serving as lead, the Army fielded and flew the first prototype GBSAA system at El Mirage, Calif. in 2011. Based on that success, the Army is moving forward to conduct operations with the first DO-178C compliant GBSAA system in 2015.
FOTF: Why did you choose the Army for your career? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?
OTTMAN: I began my career with the Army on Sept. 11, 1989 as a cooperative education student. I enjoyed the job immensely and remained with the Army upon graduation from college. I take immense pride and satisfaction in being able to serve the warfighter. My father and my uncles were all in the military and I know the sacrifices that they made to serve our country. It is very rewarding to participate in developing systems that increase our warfighters’ capabilities and their safety so that they can defend our freedoms and return home to their families.
FOTF: What has your experience been like? What has surprised you the most?
OTTMAN: In my 24 years with the Army, it has been both surprising and extremely rewarding that as my interests and desire for professional growth have changed, career opportunities have always been available that have allowed me to stretch personally and professionally. As a result, I have been able to contribute and serve during my civilian career in more ways than I would have ever dreamed possible.
I began my career as a cooperative education electrical engineering student performing tasks such as wire-wrapping and soldering circuit boards. This led to the pursuit of a career in software development, with activities such as writing assembly code, developing expertise in visual programming, trainer software development, and then tactical software development. Along the way I gained more responsibility. After being recognized for my leadership abilities, the Army sent me to school for an MBA and also to the Senior Service College Fellowship program at the Defense Acquisition University where I also gained my masters in leadership. Following the SSCF program, I took my current position with the GBSAA program. It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to be part of a program that is changing the face of aviation.
- “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.
- “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.
Competitive Development Group welcomes 2014 fellows
The Director, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC), Craig Spisak, welcomes seven new Competitive Development Group/Army Acquisition Fellowship (CDG/AAF) fellows during an orientation meeting at Defense Acquisition University on April 1, 2014. The three-year fellowship program offers developmental assignments in program executive offices, assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics and technology offices, U.S. Army Materiel Command Headquarters and functional organizations providing expanded training and leadership development for future Army acquisition leaders.
From the left: Walter Hamm, U.S. Army Contracting Command; Maurice Stephens, Engineering Center and Communications Electronics Command; Kyle Bruner, Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T); Monica Clemons, U.S. Army Contracting Command, Chandra Evansmitchell, CDG/AFF program manager; Craig Spisak, USAASC director, Lauren McNew, PEO C3T; Kelly Courtney, PEO Combat Support & Combat Service Support and David Oatley, PEO Ammunition. (Photo by Bob Coultas)
For more information on the CDG/AAF program go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/competitive-development-group-army-acquisition-fellowship/
By Brig. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, Col. Mark Elliott and Col. John Zavarelli
Just weeks after deploying to Afghanistan last summer, the commanders and Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (4-10 MTN) christened the Army’s new tactical communications network their “digital guardian angel.” Capability Set (CS) 13 became critical to their daily operations in Afghanistan, enabling them to cover more ground safely and providing a considerable tactical advantage. Their experience shows why the Army pushed so hard over the past two years to deliver CS 13, our first integrated package of communication systems that supports mission command on-the-move and brings the Soldier into the network.
But we owe it to the 10th MTN—and the units next in line for new network technologies—to go further. How do we continue to enhance and refresh the network with each capability set? How do we make the network more capable but less complex to use, train, maintain and sustain? How do we focus innovation on capabilities that could be transformative for the network of 2020 and beyond?
The answers rest in our partnership with industry. Examine Moore’s Law—that the number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months—or simply look at your own cellphone: When the pace of progress is exponential, the Army cannot keep up by itself. To field the latest tactical communication technologies to Soldiers, we know we need industry’s agility, innovation and investment, especially in a fiscally constrained environment. Our approach to driving industry involvement in the next phase of network modernization is built on two principles: consistency and competition.
A NEW CONSTRUCT
Consistency is aimed at making the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) a more productive venue for businesses of all sizes to demonstrate their capabilities. While the Army is procuring commercial routers, antennas, network operations tools, operational energy solutions and other items as a result of the NIE process, it has taken several NIE cycles to refine the supporting processes for this new way of doing business. During that evolution, we have listened to feedback from our industry partners and are now implementing a new construct for NIE 15.1 and beyond.
This new construct will give industry additional time to respond to more focused capability gaps. It will also be synchronized with Army program objective memorandum (POM) planning so that successful systems can transition smoothly into our portfolios.
The other way we plan to engage the network industrial base is through more frequent competition. Government-owned waveforms and a standardized Common Operating Environment (COE) set the conditions for the Army to conduct more competitions for radios, apps and other network components—putting the “buy fewer, more often” acquisition philosophy into action.
This approach will give more vendors the opportunity to participate in building the network and give the Army the flexibility to choose from multiple technologies. By structuring contracts to facilitate competition among qualified vendors on a regular basis, we will also reduce system costs and ensure that we encourage the innovation that will lead to progress with each capability set. For example, Company A could win a delivery order competition one year and Company B could win the following year, but both would have an incentive to propose improved, affordable products for the year after that.
EVOLVING THE NIE
The Army remains committed to the NIE process, which has proven its value within the Army and industry since its launch in 2011. Driven by Soldier feedback, lessons learned in past NIEs have allowed the Army to mature certain programs, restructure or terminate others and reallocate resources to new priorities. CS 13 was integrated, refined and validated through the NIEs—reducing the integration burden on the 10th MTN and 101st Airborne Divisions while helping develop tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for using the gear in the field.
Industry partners who submitted their systems for assessment not only have received invaluable feedback from Soldiers and Army laboratories, but also have demonstrated the breadth of available commercial technology, informing the Army’s acquisition strategy for several key programs. The Army has spent $39 million to procure non-program of record, NIE-tested radios to field. Recently, Congress provided funding that gave the Army $9.3 million to procure several systems under evaluation from previous NIEs. The Army also has begun to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) as a formal mechanism for streamlined competitive procurement of non-program of record systems that show promise at the NIE.
The first RFP process resulted in six contract awards to different vendors for their vehicle tactical routers to be evaluated at NIE 14.1 in fall 2013.
While there has been great success, we have also hit some speed bumps in ramping up the NIE process. Frustrated vendors told us that the government’s capability gaps were too broadly defined, the funding was too scarce and the schedule too unpredictable. We understand industry’s challenges, and we are adjusting the NIE to better facilitate vendor participation while meeting the needs of the Army within budget constraints.
Beginning with NIE 15.1 in fall 2014, the Army will add periodic network baseline assessments to pinpoint capability gaps that industry can zero in on for near-term network modernization. NIE 15.1 will assess the integrated network baseline to evaluate the performance of existing network capabilities and identify remaining gaps. This effort will be informed by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Network Capability Review, an ongoing study that aims to identify the proper mix of systems and their requirements to provide integrated tactical network capabilities within various formations.
The capability gaps identified at NIE 15.1 will be fixed in place and released to industry so that their proposed solutions can be evaluated over the following two NIEs, 15.2 and 16.1. By identifying consistent gaps for two consecutive NIEs rather than releasing a new set with each exercise, the Army will increase industry’s lead time in developing and submitting mature capability solutions. NIE 16.2 will include another network baseline assessment. Then the updated gaps will be fixed in place and released to industry for two more NIEs, and the pattern will repeat for subsequent cycles.
While the original NIE process was built to meet theater needs quickly, with the transition out of Afghanistan, the refined process will allow us to be more deliberate in determining and filling our network capability gaps. The new schedule and fewer, better-defined gaps will also allow the Army to better align NIE results with POM planning to inform procurement and fielding decisions for future capability sets.
With these positive changes, it is still important to reiterate that the value of the NIE goes beyond acquiring systems. As the Army transitions from fighting two wars to preparing for future threats, the NIE will provide the operational laboratory to incrementally enhance the network, respond to the emerging needs of regionally aligned forces and assess dynamic “leap-ahead” capabilities—not just from industry, but also the Army science and technology community.
NIEs will continue to integrate capability sets before fielding, refine TTPs, evaluate force design options and non-materiel requirements such as training, and give Soldiers a “vote” by collecting their feedback on all of these areas. NIEs remain a vital component of the Army’s modernization efforts.
COMPETITION FOR RADIOS
Since the advent of DOD’s Better Buying Power initiative, there has been increased attention to the benefits of competition. The rationale is clear: An environment in which multiple vendors compete to satisfy the same requirement can reduce cost, spur innovation, cultivate the industrial base and eliminate the single points of failure that come with dependence on one vendor. But to make a competition as effective as possible, the strategy must be tailored to the specific product and the current market. Fortunately, we are now hitting that “sweet spot” with a key part of the network—tactical radios.
The current marketplace is primed for the Army to competitively procure advanced networking radios. The technical maturity achieved in the commercial, software-programmable radio field over the course of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) developmental effort has enabled industry to develop effective hardware solutions—radio “boxes”—more easily. Meanwhile, the Joint Tactical Networking Center (JTNC) maintains a data repository of secure networking waveforms and applications that adhere to open standards set by the government. The repository, along with the JTNC laboratory and accreditation resources, are accessible to vendors, allowing the waveforms to run on multiple hardware models that industry produces. Through our engagement with industry, including at the NIEs, we know that the technology now exists for a competitive marketplace of interoperable, affordable radios.
Thus, the foundation is in place to execute the Army’s tactical radio strategy. In September 2013, we awarded an initial contract for Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radios (MNVR), using a competitive non-developmental item acquisition approach designed to procure lower-cost, commercially available radios that meet the Army’s requirement for a mid-tier tactical network solution.
Now the Army is focused on executing full and open competitions, in which all industry partners can participate, for the full-rate production phases of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit Rifleman and Manpack radio programs. The goal is to decrease costs and drive down size, weight and power requirements while increasing system functionality and simplicity.
While the details are still being finalized, the Army will conduct a full and open competition for each radio, and award contracts to qualified vendors meeting the Rifleman and Manpack radio requirements. Qualified vendors then will compete for delivery orders as needed by the Army, after qualification and operational tests to confirm compliance with technical and operational requirements.
This constantly competitive environment promises to promote an active, engaged industrial base that has an incentive not only to lower prices but also to innovate for each capability set, ultimately improving the radios we deliver to Soldiers.
Such multilayered, multiple-vendor- competition has shown success before, such as with the Consolidated Interim Single Channel Handheld Radio (CISCHR) contract, executed under the JTRS program. Initiated in 2007, CISCHR provided a contract vehicle for the joint services to procure government off-the-shelf and non-developmental, software-defined tactical handheld radios. While not a perfect comparison, CISCHR illustrates the potential advantages of a multiple-award contract that allows for delivery order competitions among vendors.
Although this type of strategy can require more effort to manage, the money saved through competition far exceeds the administrative costs. CISCHR yielded an average savings of more than 40 percent, compared with the contractual ceiling prices over the life of the contract. It is also noteworthy that the radio technologies and features improved as a result of the vendors’ own investments.
Radios aren’t the only network component for which the Army stands to benefit from increased competition. With the COE providing a comprehensive, standards-based open architecture, the Army can leverage industry’s state-of-the-art capabilities and best practices for other computing environment technologies.
For example, many mission command systems previously developed by a single vendor as stovepiped boxes will be delivered instead as software applications, with multiple third parties competing to build and rapidly enhance them, broadening the market. The COE will also facilitate greater interoperability among various manufacturers’ systems, creating possibilities for common interfaces and common training as we work to simplify the network for the end user.
The network remains a critical Army modernization priority. It is a core element in enabling the Army to produce a future force that is smaller but still highly capable. As we build on lessons learned from the first CS 13 brigades to deliver these essential technologies to more units across the force, the Army will engage industry through consistent NIEs and frequent competitions in order to improve and simplify network capabilities. Working as partners, we will continue to provide our Soldiers with the information they need to change the game.
For further information, go to http://peoc3t.army.mil.
Brig.Gen. DANIEL P. HUGHES is the Program Executive Officer Command, Control and Communications – Tactical. He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington, an M.B.A. in business management from Oklahoma City University and an M.S. in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Hughes is Level III certified in program management. and is a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps (AAC).
Col. MARK ELLIOTT is the director, G-3/5/7 LandWarNet – Mission Command. He holds a B.A. in physics from the University of Alabama, an M.S. in telecommunication from Southern Methodist University and an M.A. in national security strategy with a concentration in information operations from the National Defense University’s National War College. Elliott is a certified information systems security professional and is certified in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library.
Col. JOHN ZAVARELLI is the director, system of systems integration (SoSI) in the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. He holds a B.S. in management from the University of Colorado and an M.B.A. in business management from the University of Texas at Arlington as part of the Industry-Grad program that included training with industry at Lockheed Martin Corp. Zavarelli is Level III certified in program management and is a member of the AAC.
From the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
One of the seven goals of Better Buying Power 2.0 is to improve the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce. I thought it might be useful to provide some specificity about what I have in mind when I talk about professionalism. The following is based on various experiences over my career, including some formal education on the nature of professionalism in the military, including at venues like West Point and the Army War College, in my on-the-job training in program management and systems engineering by various Air Force colonels in the Ballistic Missile Office, and by mentors in the Army’s Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Command. I don’t intend this to be an academic discussion, however, but a hands-on practical application of the term “professional” in the context of defense acquisition.
Defense acquisition professionals have a special body of knowledge and experience that is not easily acquired. Other professions such as attorneys, physicians, and military officers also have this characteristic. The situation for defense acquisition professionals is analogous. This characteristic applies equally to professionals in program management, engineering, contracting, test and evaluation, and product support, to name our most obvious examples. One should no more expect a lay person to make good judgments about something in these acquisition fields—be it a program structure, a risk mitigation approach, or the incentive structure of a contract—than one would expect an amateur to tell a lawyer how to argue a case, or a brain surgeon how to do an operation, or a brigade commander how to organize an attack. No one should expect an amateur without acquisition experience to be able to exercise professional judgments in acquisition without the years of training and experience it takes to learn the field. Like these other highly skilled professions, our expertise sets us apart. Defense acquisition professionals set the standards for members of the profession. One of the reasons we are establishing “qualification boards” for our various key senior leader fields is to infuse a greater element of this characteristic into our workforce. Our senior professionals should know better than anyone else what it takes to be successful as a key acquisition leader. A professional career-field board will make the determination, in a “peer review” context, whether an individual has the experience, education, training, and demonstrated talent to accept responsibility for the success of all, or a major aspect of, a multibillion dollar program. This is not a minor responsibility. These new boards are an experiment at this stage, but I am hopeful that they will take on a large share of the responsibility for enhancing and sustaining the expected level of preparation and performance of our key leaders. The boards will be joint, so that our professional standards are high and uniform across the defense Services and agencies. Setting standards for other members of the profession also encompasses the development and mentoring responsibilities that leaders at all levels, including AEs, PEOs, and other acquisition leaders, take on to strengthen and maintain the profession. They know that their most important legacy is a stronger—and more professional—workforce than the one they inherited.
Defense acquisition professionals know how to deal with complexity. The problems we have to solve are not simple—we are developing and fielding some of the most complicated and technically advanced systems and technologies in military history. It is therefore an illusion to believe that defense acquisition success is just a matter of applying the right, easily learned “cookbook” or “checklist” approach to doing our jobs. There are no fixed rules that apply to all situations, and as professionals we know that a deeper level of comprehension is needed to understand how to make good decisions about such issues as technical risk mitigation, what incentives will best improve industry’s performance, what it will take to ensure that a product is mature enough to enter production, or how much testing is needed to verify compliance with a requirement. It is not enough to know acquisition best practices; acquisition professionals must understand the “why” behind the best practices—that is, the underlying principles at play. Many of our products consist of thousands of parts and millions of lines of code. They must satisfy hundreds of requirements, and it takes several years to bring them into production. Understanding and managing complexity is central to our work.
“No one should expect an amateur without acquisition experience to be able to exercise professional judgments in acquisition without the years of training and experience it takes to learn the field.”
Defense acquisition professionals embrace a culture of continuous improvement. The concept of continuous improvement should apply to our own capabilities as individuals, to the teams we lead, to the processes we create and manage, and to the acquisition outcomes we seek. Better Buying Power is built on the idea of continuous improvement, of measuring performance, of setting targets for improving that performance, and striving to reach them (“should cost” for example). We are willing to examine our own results and think critically about where we can achieve more, and we have the courage and character to learn from our mistakes and to implement constantly ideas for better performance. As leaders we encourage these behaviors in the people who work for us and who collaborate with us.
Defense acquisition professionals practice and require ethical standards of behavior and conduct. Our ethical values guide how we interact with one another, with our supervisors, with industry, and with stakeholders including the public, media, and Congress. An Under Secretary whom I worked for decades ago told me once that when you lose your credibility you have nothing left—and you won’t get it back. We must speak truth to power about problems within our programs and about ill-advised guidance that will lead to poor results. Successful acquisition requires a culture of “telling bad news fast,” and that values accountability without a “shoot the messenger” mentality. Finally, it is particularly important that we treat industry fairly and with complete transparency.
I hope that this doesn’t all come across as either preachy or aspirational. I believe that these are realistic expectations for defense acquisition professionals. I believe that they go a long way to defining what being a professional really means. My West Point class (1971) motto is “Professionally Done.” I have always thought that this is a pretty good motto, and a pretty good way to look back on a successful career or a completed project, including in defense acquisition.
- Previoulsy published in Defense AT&L magazine (March – April 2014 edition).
By Steve Stark
FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The award-winning Army AL&T magazine announced the winners of its annual “ALTies” awards, celebrating the best article, commentary, graphic, ad and photograph from 2013. Editor-in-Chief Nelson McCouch III presented the awards here today, following Army AL&T magazine’s second annual writer’s workshop at the U.S. Army Acquisition Service Center (USAASC) headquarters.
“Each issue of Army AL&T is a collaborative process, a team effort,” McCouch said. “Without our contributors, who help us continually raise the bar on quality, we would not have a magazine. But we have a great one that gets better with every issue.” Claire Heininger, editor/lead writer for Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), and a regular Army AL&T contributor, was guest speaker at the workshop.
McCouch also announced the new online version of Army AL&T, available at http://usaasc.armyalt.com/. The new online version of the magazine offers a significantly improved interface, simpler navigation, and enables users to share stories with friends and colleagues and through social media.
This year’s ALTies went to:
BEST ARTICLE (tie)
Wired for Success, by Lt. Col. Jeffery T. Yon and Mr. Jeffrey C. Faulkner, Reserve Component Automation Systems, Program Executive Office (PEO) Enterprise Information Systems, October–December 2013 issue.
Path to Success, by Ms. Kelly Courtney, PM Force Projection, PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support, January–March 2013 issue.
It Takes a Team, by Col. (now Brig. Gen.) William E. Cole, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (OASA(ALT)), July–September 2013 issue
Speaking of Savings, by Mr. Thom Hawkins, PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, and Mr. Vince Dahmen, PEO Ammunition, October–December 2013 issue
Driving Competition, by Lt. Col. T.J. Wright, Product Manager for Precision-Guided Missiles and Rockets, PEO Missiles and Space, April–June 2013 issue
Total Logistics Integration, Product Director, U.S. Army Logistics Modernization Program, January–March 2013 issue
Introducing Capability Set 13, by Ms. Claire Heininger, OASA(ALT), January–March 2013 issue
The Five Phases of the Unit Set Fielding Process, PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, April–June 2013 issue
Tiered Technical Knowledge, C4ISR Integrated Process Team, July–September 2013 issue
U.S. Army Logistics Modernization Program, PEO Enterprise Information Systems, October–December 2013 issue
Connecting Tomorrow’s Warriors, PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, October–December 2013 issue