• What Really Matters in Defense Acquisition

    From the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
    Frank Kendall


    My first inclination for this issue’s article was to discuss the newly released DoDI 5000.02. We recently implemented this new acquisition policy document as interim guidance. I provided a cover letter explaining why I had done a new version and outlined some of the features of this edition. I do recommend that you look at both the cover letter and the new document, but on reflection I decided to write about something else for this issue. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into designing our processes and implementing them, but at the end of the day it isn’t those processes or policy documents like 5000.02 that really drive our results. What really matters in defense acquisition is our people and their professionalism and leadership—so I thought I would start the new year by writing about that.

    This past year we’ve gone through a lot, and all of our acquisition professionals have been asked to put up with more than any workforce should have to endure. We’ve had continuing budget turmoil and uncertainty, furloughs, continuing resolutions, late-breaking sequestration, and most recently a government shutdown. We’re also living under pay freezes and the prospect of further budget reductions and staff reductions.

    I want to thank the whole workforce for the way you have all coped with these challenges. While other senior leaders and I have been asking you to improve our productivity and achieve ever greater results for our warfighters and the taxpayer, you’ve also had to work in very challenging circumstances. You’ve come through, and it has inspired me and your other senior leaders to see the way you’ve dealt with all these challenges in stride. Thank you. Thank you personally, but also on behalf of the Secretary and all the senior leaders in the Department. Thank you also for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who benefit from your great work as they put themselves at risk for our country.

    Recently, I joined Dr. Carter in one of his last official acts as Deputy Secretary in presenting the Packard Awards to this year’s recipients. As I write this, I’m looking forward to going out to the Defense Acquisition University to present the USD(AT&L) awards for professionalism and developing the work force to some of our outstanding performers. I’m sorry that we can’t recognize more of our exceptional performers—there are so many of you, and you all deserve to be recognized for what you do. During the last few weeks, I also have had occasion to note the departure of some of our most capable people who are retiring or will soon retire from government service. We lose a lot of terrific people every year of course, and these individuals are just examples of the many fine professionals working in defense acquisition, technology and logistics. I decided that for this article I would note the contributions of some of these people with whom over the last few years I’ve had the chance to work. They are just examples, but they are especially powerful examples of what one can accomplish during a career in defense acquisition.

    I’ll start with Charlie Williams, the recently retired Director of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). Charlie led DCMA for the past several years. He started federal service in 1982 in Air Logistics Command in a Mid-Level Management Training Program. Charlie then rose through a series of contracting, program analysis and contract management positions with the Air Force both in the field and at Air Force Headquarters. He became Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Contracting before taking the reins at DCMA. At DCMA, Charlie led the rebuilding of the organization after severe reductions in the 1990s. He kept his team together during the Base Realignment and Closure move from D.C. to Richmond, and he led the effort to ensure that our contracts in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were executed properly.

    “Thank you personally, but also on behalf of the Secretary and all the senior leaders in the Department. Thank you also for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who benefit from your great work as they put themselves at risk for our country.”

    Next I’ll mention MajGen Tim Crosby, the soon-to-retire Army Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Aviation. Tim has led Army aviation programs since 2008. He was commissioned after graduating from the Citadel and started out as a field artillery officer. He moved quickly into aviation as a pilot before following his interest in research and development and flight testing. In acquisition, he worked in logistics, training and simulation, and test and evaluation before becoming a Product Manager, first for the CH-47 F and later Program Manager for the Army’s Armed Scout. His long tenure at PEO Aviation is marked by strong leadership in support of our deployed forces and in building the capability of the Afghan Air Force. Tim embraced the Better Buying Power principles and was implementing them well before Dr. Carter and I gave them a name.

    Rear Admiral Jim Murdoch retired recently after serving as the Navy’s first PEO for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Jim entered the Navy with an ROTC commission after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in mechanical engineering. He moved between surface combatant assignments and acquisition positions. His acquisition assignments included program management for surface weapons and launchers and responsibility for integrated warfare systems as well as program manager for the Littoral Combat Ships. In 2011, Jim was handpicked by Sean Stackley to lead the new Program Executive Office for LCS sea-frames and mission modules. He stabilized and fully integrated one of the Navy’s most complex acquisition endeavors.

    Finally Scott Correll, our retiring Air Force PEO for Space Launch, also started his career as an intern. From the Pacer Intern Contracting Program at Robbins Air Force Base, where he began as a cost analyst and contract negotiator on the F-4 and F-15, Scott rose through the contracting, supply chain management and program management fields. Scott’s diverse positions include leadership positions at Military Sealift Command and TRANSCOM. I was able to take Scott in to meet Secretary Hagel recently so the Secretary could thank him personally for saving the Department billions of dollars in space launch costs—quite an achievement for our taxpayers and warfighters.

    The people I mention above have accomplished a great deal for their country during their careers. They’ve also had the opportunity to do exciting and fulfilling work. People who achieve this sort of success over their careers are what give us the best equipped military in the world. All of these people have a lot to be proud of. All of you have a lot to be proud of. I’m looking forward to 2014 with the hope that things will improve—and there are some signs that they will. But mostly I’m just looking forward to another year of working with this terrific team.
    Thank you again for all that you do.

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  • Joint Light Tactical Vehicle team wins Packard Award for acquisition excellence

    Full-pace, full-scope testing of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototypes began Sept. 3 and will last for 14 months. Photo by U.S. Army

    By Michael Clow


    WARREN, Mich. — Marking another sign of strength for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, joint program office leaders celebrated being named one of the four 2013 recipients of the Department of Defense (DOD) David Packard Award in Acquisition Excellence.

    The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, an Army-led effort partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps, is working to close a capability gap in existing light tactical vehicle fleets and give commanders a flexible, transportable, protected, networked, and reliable expeditionary vehicle capability.

    “I couldn’t be prouder of our teams and their tremendous efforts to keep JLTV on budget, on schedule, and with stable requirements despite tremendous uncertainty.”

    “The days of front lines and rear areas are gone,” said JLTV Project Manager Col. John R. Cavedo, U.S. Army. “Our objective is to eliminate the tradeoffs commanders have to make today between Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, and to give them a flexible, expeditionary, and networked vehicle able to handle tomorrow’s diverse challenges.”

    The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award recognizes DOD civilian and/or military organizations, groups, or teams, whose significant contributions demonstrate exemplary innovation and best acquisition practices. The award recognizes achievements that exemplify the goals and objectives established for furthering life cycle cost reduction and acquisition excellence in DOD.

    “I couldn’t be prouder of our teams and their tremendous efforts to keep JLTV on budget, on schedule, and with stable requirements despite tremendous uncertainty. That speaks volumes about this team’s dedication and character,” said Mr. William Taylor, U.S. Marine Corps program executive officer for land systems.

    Commitment to the program, which has been identified with the defense strategic guidance, runs deep.

    “I’m fully committed to JLTV, and it’s absolutely what our Soldiers need. The JLTV program is tremendously well structured, affordable, and-most importantly-effectively addresses the warfighter’s real needs. My most sincere congratulations to the team for their great work thus far,” said Lt. Gen. William Phillips, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.

    “This award is a tremendous honor and recognition of the great teamwork between the Army and Marine Corps on this program,” said Kevin Fahey, the Army’s program executive officer for combat support & combat service support. “A collaborative, joint approach is essential to how we fight, and so it’s equally important to how we acquire interoperable future systems.”

    The JLTV program is currently in the testing portion of its 33-month engineering and manufacturing development phase, leading to an acquisition milestone and low rate initial production decisions in fiscal year 2015. The program has already been cited as a leader in implementing DOD’s Better Buying Power practices, and its innovative efforts substantially reduced costs, emphasized the benefits of competition in all phases, and shortened the acquisition timeline.

    Intended to replace a portion of the Army’s light tactical wheeled vehicle fleet and Marine Corps vehicles with the most demanding mission profiles, over the next three decades, the Army and Marine Corps expect to acquire a total of about 55,000 new vehicles.

    Members of the joint program office will accept the award at an upcoming Pentagon ceremony.

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  • Army advances Better Buying Power

    Six UH-60L Black Hawks and two CH-47F simultaneously launch a daytime mission Jan. 18 from Multinational Base Tarin Kowt. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Scott Tant, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade)

    Kris Osborn

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army has achieved significant cost savings and cost avoidance as result of its implementation of Better Buying Power (BBP), an initiative led by the Office of the Secretary of Defense aimed at improving the management of acquisition programs, incentivizing competition, eliminating redundancy, and achieving the maximum amount of savings, senior service officials explained.

    In place since 2010, BBP is also geared toward incentivizing innovation and productivity while improving the capabilities of the acquisition workforce and strengthening the tradecraft of acquisition services, among other things.

    “Better Buying Power has produced large savings. We’re continuously looking to optimize the use of the Army’s money,” said Mr. Tom Mullins, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army – Plans, Programs and Resources.

    Some of the key tenets of the program include specific efforts to craft and implement policies that build affordability and competitive procurement strategies into the structure of acquisition programs, said Mr. Wimpy Pybus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition Policy and Logistics.

    An integral part of the achieved savings can be directly attributed to a portion of BBP referred to as the Should-Cost/Will-Cost program; this effort encourages Program Managers to explore enterprising and innovative program management methods and strategies designed to gain the maximum value from dollars invested. The “Will-Cost” is the initial baseline or expected cost of a given program or technological development, whereas the “Should-Cost” is, in essence, a lower cost achieved through successful implementation of efforts designed to improve developmental efficiency.

    The available data from the Army’s Should Cost FY12 Closeout highlight substantial successes with the BBP program since its inception. For instance, the Army achieved millions in savings with the procurement of the Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) by lowering the production unit cost of the M855A1/M856A1 lead-free 5.56mm ammunition.

    “For years we built 5.56mm ammo with a lead core with brass wrapped around the outside. It will have less impact on the environment than lead in the long run, lower cost material than lead and an improvement in performance of the round,” Mullins explained.

    Finding and executing the proper contracting mechanism for each program is a considerable part of establishing greater efficiency through BBP, Mullins explained. In fact, the Army’s multi-year helicopter procurement contracts for the CH-47 Chinook and the UH-60 Black Hawk are expected to result in savings. Multi-year contracts improve acquisition efficiency by allowing vendors to establish a stable supply and production schedule – all while securing a lower unit price, he added.

    “BBP is taking a look at all of your tool kit of things you can do — and then assessing which ones are applicable to the program. We’ve seen success in aviation with Black Hawk and Chinook. The potential savings there are enormous,” Mullins added.

    Other instances of BBP success include millions saved on programs such as Excalibur 155m artillery rounds, modifications to Abrams and Stryker procurement contracts designed to reduce costs, and competitive acquisition strategies with the Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (CRAM) program.

    The Enhanced Performance Round fired at Camp Perry, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Eric Kowal, RDECOM)

    BBP also plays a role when it comes to the Army’s Science and Technology development. S&T influences a number of the tenants of BBP 2.0 — specifically achieving affordable programs, controlling costs throughout the product lifecycle, and promoting effective competition. Much of what we do within the S&T community can help achieve system affordability. By designing technologies with reliability and manufacturability in mind, we can reduce the cost and time associated with redesign when these technologies transition from the S&T domain into formal Programs of Record. This results in lower developmental costs and potentially faster acquisition, said Ms. Mary Miller, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army – Research and Technology, ASA (ALT). By engaging Program Managers early in the technology development process and collaboratively defining technology, performance goals and acceptance testing, we can facilitate a more successful insertion of mature technology for emerging capabilities, she explained.

    “When developing new capabilities, one of the key things we need to do is make sure we reach technical maturity prior to integration. This is an essential element of reducing risk and eliminating excess costs,” Miller said.

    Better Buying Power 2.0
    The Army, which has had great success thus far with the BBP program, is both cataloguing billions in cost savings since the program’s inception while simultaneously preparing to implement the next iteration of the initiative — referred to as BBP 2.0.

    “Better Buying Power is not a one-time event and you can be assured that neither is BBP 2.0 – we must make it part of our culture. We have more reason than ever to believe that the efficiencies we seek can be realized based on the successes we’ve accomplished to date. It is imperative that we stay the course in order to deliver even greater value to our taxpayers and essential capabilities to the Warfighters,” wrote Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in a Nov. 6 Memorandum for the Defense Acquisition Workforce.

    BBP 2.0 seeks to build upon and advance the core tenets of the initial BBP effort and further instill a culture of cost-consciousness, increase procurement opportunities for small business and more efficiently execute affordable acquisition programs.

    In addition to its many other components, BBP 2.0 is also focused on sustainment and life-cycle management, meaning PMs are encouraged to consider the entire life or span of a technology or program’s maturation such that they account for its entire life-cycle.

    BBP 2.0 also aims to build upon the initial program’s emphasis upon incentivizing industry by aligning profitability with contractor performance; in fact, this effort speaks to one of DOD’s broad BBP goals which is to emphasize that the program is designed to increase productivity and by no means reduce industry profits.


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