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Air Force “Delta” Office to Rehaul Acquisition Process

( The U.S. Air Force has established a new office to streamline how it procures and sustains weapons, platforms and networks.

The office, dubbed “AQ Delta” and placed under Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper, is not intended to manage programs, but instead “identify things that are slowing us down and to rewire the system” in the acquisition process, said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“Delta” is incorporated into the name because it means change, she said.

Wilson revealed the new unit during a town hall at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on May 4 when an airman asked what the service is doing to better integrate systems and “break down barriers” when “money is keeping us apart” from advancing new programs.

If there are problems, a team of finance and acquisition experts would pinpoint them and “say, ‘Alright, let’s stop working around systems; start rewiring it,’ ” Wilson said.

The idea replicates what Roper helped create at the highest levels at the Pentagon: the Strategic Capabilities Office, which aims to get around bureaucratic problems and more effectively advance programs in the Defense Department. The office was stood up by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Wilson has touted the Air Force’s progress in improving its procurement approach, often pointing to additional acquisition authorities, rapid prototyping endeavors and even the service’s “Light Attack experiment” ongoing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

For example, the Air Force in recent budgets has received more acquisition authority from Congress to push down decisions to program officers so they can spend more time managing their designated projects “than managing the Pentagon,” Wilson told lawmakers Thursday.

Extra authorities at lower levels have given the service an edge in more rapid prototyping for concepts such as the “next-generation missile warning satellites, new engines for the [B-52 Stratofortress], and hypersonic weapons,” she said before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense.

Accelerating how the Air Force acquires new weapons isn’t the only item on the agenda; the service is rethinking maintenance as well.

Since assuming his role in February, Roper has signaled that the Air Force may be more open to competing sustainment or upgrade contracts.

The practice would allow for additional companies to compete for upgrades on current programs, which are often automatically dedicated to the firm that originated them.

“I would like to be able for a system to continually compete, replace and upgrade, all the different components,” Roper said earlier this month.

Wilson endorses the idea.

“In general, competition helps to drive up performance and drive down cost, and so competition works,” she told in a May 4 interview. “And it’s true in military procurement just as it is in the private sector.” / 18 May 2018 / By Oriana Pawlyk

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Pentagon: Bureaucracy in Chief

(DOD Buzz, 30 Jan 18) The Senate Armed Services Committee approved by voice vote Tuesday, and sent to the floor for quick action, the nomination of John H. “Jay” Gibson II as the Pentagon’s first “chief management officer [CMO]” with a mandate to shake up the bureaucracy.

“This goes to the fundamental restructuring of the department,” Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told defense reporters last month in anticipation of the confirmation of Gibson, a former assistant secretary of the Air Force and former chief executive of XCOR Aerospace.

“Congress has written in the law many, many times that we need to have a chief management officer,” Shanahan said, and “a good portion of Jay’s responsibility is going to help us transition organizationally and technically.”

Under a re-organization plan approved last August, the new post of CMO will have major responsibilities in the areas of logistics and supply; real property; community services; human resources; health care; and technology systems.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said he expects Gibson will get pushback in all those areas from the entrenched bureaucracy.

“You’ll probably hear screaming and yelling” because of the belief among some career officials that “change is bad,” Shanahan said.

However, “if you’re going to have a more performance-driven operation, you have to unwind the bureaucracy and reorganize,” he said.

Gibson is also expected to have major input in how the Pentagon overhauls the process by which the military buys and develops weapons when the split of the DoD’s Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) takes place next month.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, which is still bottled up over Congress’ failure to reach a budget deal, AT&L is slated to be broken up in February to create a new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering (R&E)) and a new undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (A&S).

In the lead-up to passage of the NDAA, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, both argued that splitting AT&L is vital to streamlining the cumbersome process of getting new weapons and technology into the hands of warfighters.

Shanahan said he expects Gibson to make changes in how the DoD operates that could not be undone by future administrations.

“We want to make sure that with the stroke of a pen or a few clicks of the keyboard, we can’t undo progress,” he said. “When you think about enduring change, you have to wire or alter the work so that you don’t regress. That’s the hard part about big bureaucracy — is making enduring change.”

, 30 Jan 2018, By Richard Sisk

FitzGerald to Reorganize DoD OSD (AT&L)

WASHINGTON — Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ellen M. Lord yesterday announced the appointment of Ben FitzGerald as director of the Office of Strategy and Design, according to a Defense Department news release.
In this role, effective Jan. 2, 2018, FitzGerald will serve as the central hub within the Office of the Secretary of Defense to lead the reorganization of AT&L, the release said.

Under section 901 of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department must disestablish the Office of the USD (AT&L) and establish undersecretaries of defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, and Research and Engineering, as well as the Chief Management Officer, according to the release.

FitzGerald was appointed as a highly qualified expert for a period of five years, the release said.

Breadth of Experience

FitzGerald has a breadth of experience across a range of strategic matters, according to the release. He has served as a professional staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as a senior fellow and director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Additionally, FitzGerald has led and contributed to diverse projects, such as military technology strategy, institutional innovation, United Nations peacekeeping doctrine, transitional law enforcement, the future of urban-littoral combat and the future role of the Marine Corps, the release said.
He also designed and led a variety of war games for military and civilian audiences, ranging from action officers to four-star generals, according to the release.

FitzGerald’s experience working across DoD, the Congress and think tanks, as well as his broad perspective of Congress’ intent for the AT&L reorganization, makes him ideally suited for the position, the release said.

Driving Innovation, Advancing Warfighting Capability

USD(R&E) will drive innovation and accelerate the advancement of the nation’s warfighting capability, while the USD (A&S) will deliver proven technology into the hands of the warfighter more quickly and affordably, the release said.

Working from the reorganization plan previously submitted to Congress on Aug. 1, 2017, FitzGerald will determine how current AT&L functions fit into the overarching objectives of the new structure and whether those functions should transition to R&E, A&S, another OSD functional lead, the military services or be divested altogether, the release said.

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Senate Ask Pentagon for List of Damage from Continuing Resolution

(The Hill) Senate Armed Services Committee leadership want fellow lawmakers to be very aware of the affects an incomplete fiscal 2018 budget will have on the military.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the committee’s chairman and ranking member, on Tuesday asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to prepare a list of the damage a three- and a six-month continuing resolution would have on the Pentagon.

A continuing resolution, which freezes current funding levels and prevents any new programs from starting, “will result in billion of dollars in cuts to the defense budget from last year’s level — cuts that the Department of Defense can ill afford at a time of diminished readiness, strained modernization, and increasing operations,” the senators wrote in a letter released Wednesday.
McCain and Reed want the list by Sept. 8, saying “we believe it would be prudent to have a concrete understanding” of a continuing resolution’s impact on military branches, defensewide agencies and combatant commands.

Lawmakers return from August recess next week to tackle the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the 2017 budget expires on Sept. 30.

The Senate is expected to consider the NDAA shortly after it returns.
“Given the limited remaining work period for both the House and Senate prior to October 1st, and the difficulties of negotiating and enacting a major bipartisan budget agreement, it is very likely that the federal government will begin the fiscal year on a continuing resolution yet again,” the two wrote.
Mattis has said that passing a continuing resolution is “about as unwise as can be,” because frozen spending levels affect military readiness.

Former Pentagon Acquisitions Chief Belittles Reorg Plan

(Government Executive) Just days after the Pentagon delivered a congressionally mandated plan for reorganizing its acquisitions management, the ex-undersecretary whose job the plan would disassemble gave the reform a thumbs-down.

Frank Kendall, until January the Obama administration-appointed Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, went on the WJLA “Government Matters” Sunday TV show to say the plan is “not a step forward.”

As required under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, planners on Aug. 1 sent Congress a report proposing that the Pentagon improve innovation and exploitation of technology by breaking up the job of the undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics into two positions: one undersecretary for research and engineering and another for acquisition and sustainment.

The plan also would weave into the org chart a chief management officer newly empowered to address business processes. And it would revamp obligations for previously independent offices to report, for example, to the new undersecretary for research and engineering. These offices included  the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental.

The changes would require the approval of Congress, which has also tasked the Pentagon with cutting 25 percent of its headquarters staff. If approved, they would be implemented by Feb. 1, 2018.
The reorganization “provides a once in a generation opportunity to improve how the department is organized and operates,” the report said. The problem the Pentagon hopes to solve is that “in the course of its existence, USD(AT&L) has grown in size and complexity, largely as a result of the accrual of additional responsibilities, the impacts of additional legislation, the increase in complexity of major weapon systems, and the assumption of increased oversight responsibilities over the services.”

Long urged by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and House counterpart Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, “This new organization refocuses the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s principal role from program oversight to that of directing major department investments to ensure integrated, technically superior capability that consistently outpaces the threat.”

But Kendall, now on the board of Leidos Holdings Inc., said the plan “in its essence breaks up an office I think was functioning very well and recreates a situation we had before 1986,”  a reference to the Goldwater-Nichols reforms that streamlined the chain of command to bring the individual military services under the Joint Chiefs. “I was in the Defense Department at that time,” he noted. “The Packard Commission recommended going to a single head to oversee acquisitions. Leadership always matters, but organizations do matter as well,” Kendall continued. This new plan means “going back to an organization that demonstrably failed at that time.”

Kendall faulted the plan for “breaking up the unity of command and breaking up the centrality of effort for acquisition across the department.” The subsequent relationships between the new chief management officer, the two new undersecretaries and the services are unclear, he added, jabbing the services for being too “optimistic” in the past about acquisitions coming in within budget. The new authorities will be “partly on the basis of personalities, and partly on the basis of the organization. I don’t want to see the services getting conflicting directions from different undersecretaries, but it’s almost inevitable,” he said. “They will find the route of least resistance and do whatever it is they prefer.”

A chief concern, Kendall added, is “breaking up the life cycle of our products between different authorities so the technology and risk reduction at the earlier phases are under a different person than is responsible for putting them into production.”

Still, Kendall said, the Trump administration will have open options for making the arrangement work, adding, “You can overcome bad organization with good leaders.”

McCain on Aug. 2 released a statement calling the report “an important step toward improving the defense acquisition system and implementing the significant reforms that Congress has enacted in the past two years. For too many years, the defense acquisition system has taken too long, cost too much, and produced too little, while America’s military technological advantage continues to erode. Congress has shown that we will not tolerate business as usual, with tens of billions of dollars wasted on weapons that deliver too late, or never deliver at all.”

He commended newly arrived Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who, meeting with reporters just as the report was released, said meeting Congress’ deadline for the report was his top priority.

David Berteau, president and CEO of the 400-contractor Professional Services Council, who once worked for Kendall at the Pentagon, said, “Nothing is doomed to failure, but some things are harder than others.”

The plan’s prospects for new efficiencies and innovation will depend on three questions, he told Government Executive: “Will it actually enhance the performance of the contract process at the front end of designing and developing major systems that cost less on a better schedule?  Will it actually increase the speed and depth of research and bring new technology? And will management sustain the technology to get things done?” which is what affects contractors the most.

If any one of those three demonstrated progress, the plan might prove to have been worth it, Berteau said. “The real problem in acquiring weapons systems and information technology is that we spend twice as much on sustainment and operation as we do on getting them in the first place. There’s little incentive up-front to reduce legacy system costs, and this new structure could increase visibility and attention being paid to those issues.”

by Charles Clark

Government Executive Magazine

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