Small change, big difference

Small change, big difference

One-size-fits-all spending rules don’t always serve the unpredictable needs of contingency contracting. Here’s one simple fix. by Lt. Col. William C. Latham Jr. (USA, Ret.) “You may ask me for anything you like except time.” Napoleon Bonaparte With more than half a trillion dollars in defense spending at stake each year within the U.S. government’s budget, defense acquisition policy receives enormous attention in our nation’s capital, from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon to the lobbyists, scholars, think tanks and publications (including this one) devoted to national security. This attention is well-deserved, given the stakes. Better equipment provides American military forces with a critical technological edge while giving pause to would-be […]

Army R&D, test and evaluation communities ‘green’ civilian employees

Army R&D, test and evaluation communities ‘green’ civilian employees

by Dan Baldwin, CERDEC Public Affairs ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — For one week, civilian engineers, scientists and business support staff left their labs and cubicles to live the life of a U.S. Army Solider and gain a deeper appreciation for the Army mission Sept. 12-16. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is promoting an Army civilian acculturation program across all installations to better integrate civilian employees into the military. To align with this effort, the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center and the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command have partnered to create an Aberdeen Proving Ground’s inaugural collaborative greening program. Seventy-two ATEC and […]

Faces of the Force: Susan Hamilton

Faces of the Force: Susan Hamilton

COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center TITLE: Civil engineer YEARS IN THE WORKFORCE: 10 DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level II in facilities engineering EDUCATION: B.S. in civil engineering, Auburn University   Preventing the boom By Susan L. Follett Sure, your job might be difficult at times. But Susan Hamilton, a civil engineer for the U.S Army Engineering and Support Center, might have you beat: One of the biggest challenges she faces is reminding Soldiers and civilians that explosives can—and do—blow up. And there’s more to her work than just keeping people safe. “Sometimes, people working on a project fail to recognize that there are explosives safety requirements or they fail to […]

Think, Execute, Improve

Think, Execute, Improve

For the Hon. Frank Kendall, there is no magic called ‘acquisition reform.’ His objective is ‘acquisition improvement,’ and it starts with hard work and critical thinking about Better Buying Power. by Mr. Steve Stark The Hon. Frank Kendall isn’t especially fond of the term “acquisition reform.” He thinks it “conveys the impression there’s some dramatic shift that’s going to make things fundamentally different. I don’t think there’s any such thing.” Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (USD(AT&L)), vastly prefers “acquisition improvement,” he said during an Aug. 16 interview with Army AL&T following his keynote address at the third U.S. Army Innovation Summit, at the College of William […]

Advocate for Innovation

Advocate for Innovation

Ordered to attend the yearlong resident course at CGSC, an acquisition officer thought his career advancement was totally derailed. Instead, the course was life-altering, providing unexpected insight—and a determination to change the status quo in acquisition. by Maj. Andrew Miller My first reaction, when I saw that I’d been selected to attend the yearlong resident course of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in 2015-16, was that it made absolutely no sense to send me. I was one month into my first acquisition assignment and would have to leave my project office after a year. Additionally, I was living on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and could have attended […]

DoD, users, industry collaborate on PNT technology development

DoD, users, industry collaborate on PNT technology development

Caitlin O’Neill, PM PNT ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (September 22, 2016) — Charged with delivering next-generation positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) technologies, the Direct Reporting Program Manager Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PM PNT) has taken the lead in providing interoperable and secure PNT services to the Army. In order to support Soldiers in the field, PM PNT needs to understand their PNT environment, including factors such as disruptions in service, system requirements, capability needs, logistical use and others. Through partnership and collaboration with system users, other Department of Defense (DoD) Services, and industry partners, PM PNT uses a whole community approach in developing trusted PNT technologies that ensure the warfighter’s […]

Not quite reform, but it works

Not quite reform, but it works

Integration, both a process and a mindset, holds the key to addressing a range of threats to the U.S., from the near-peer to the low-tech. by Dr. Richard Nabors and Mr. Nathan Burkholder In the past century, the U.S. military met the developing threats of modern warfare with solutions such as increasing mechanization, nuclear arms and precision-guided missiles, using a deliberate, intentional acquisition process. This process involved highly focused programs typically decades long and often executed by a single large defense contractor. These programs began several years after the establishment of requirements and could take 10 to 15 years of development before implementation. However, today’s dynamic and rapidly changing technological […]

Competition Meets Collaboration

Competition Meets Collaboration

Vendors share prototypes for weapon sights in a new mix-and-match approach to building interoperability into integrated Soldier systems for the best overall performance at the best overall price. by Maj. Nicholas Breen On a warm, dusty afternoon at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico, in May 2016, engineers from two competing vendors for the Family of Weapons Sights – Individual (FWS-I) program took the unusual step of swapping their prototypes and discussing the technical merits of each other’s approach to the program. This level of collaboration between competing vendors is highly unorthodox in the fiercely competitive world of defense procurement, yet it was the approach taken by BAE Systems […]

One ‘Peculiar’ Fellowship

One ‘Peculiar’ Fellowship

An Army acquisition officer assigned to a stint with Amazon sees firsthand where the consumer giant’s corporate values and those of the military merge and diverge. by Lt. Col. Steven D. Gutierrez How does it sound to hang up your military uniform, slip into something more casual, challenge convention and maybe even take your dog to work, all while immersing yourself in one of the world’s leading technology and innovation companies? That may sound too peculiar to be possible, but “peculiar” is exactly how Amazon.com Inc. likes to think of itself. The Amazon Military Talent Partnership group runs a portfolio of military fellowship programs to provide just that kind of […]

Interservice Integration

Interservice Integration

Construction contracting in Qatar provides a user-level view of acquisition reform, its possibilities and its challenges. by Maj. Michael J. Carroll and Capt. Sarah Lark Acquisition reform generally happens at echelons above reality for most of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. Successful reform is evident only when it begins to take root at levels below the contracting support brigade or below wing-level contracting. One of the most effective of these initiatives is the use of contracting vehicles to support multiple service component contracting offices. This integration can provide quick wins in terms of manpower and cost reduction. However, the process is not as straightforward or as simple as it might seem. […]