It’s no secret, the Defense acquisition process can be daunting. It can be difficult to include newer, innovative technologies into an existing acquisition strategy, and the acquisition of services poses its own unique requirements. But the pressure of the battlefield is a fierce adversary and these two issues are often faced simultaneously. Making sure Defense professionals are ready and able to overcome these combined challenges is a critical need.
To help prepare its personnel to face such scenarios, the U.S. Air Force acquisition office recently organized its first-ever, acquisition wargame. Held at Hanscomb Air Force Base from June 26-30, three teams were given different requirements to defend one million users from simulated malware.
Each team was assigned a particular contracting approach to defeat the simulated opponent: a traditional approach based on a rigid interpretation of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); an innovative approach using Other Transactional Authorities (OTAs) to purchase from non-traditional defense companies; and an approach that exploited the inherent flexibilities of the FAR.
During the week-long exercise, the teams sought new approaches to real-world challenges, like those posed by evolving computer viruses, malware threats and zero-day software security breaches. But they also faced challenges from their assigned approaches.
For example, the team tasked with using OTAs had to work with small business partners that had little, or no, experience working for the Department. Compounding the problems with a lack of experience, OTAs often limit competition in favor of speed, and subsequently increase the cost of the acquisition. Conversely, traditional FAR-based approaches may be proven acquisition strategies by their execution can be slower and increase the risk of a protest.
While no team was declared a winner, all of the participants experienced the difficulty of designing an acquisition strategy around a nimble challenge. In the future, its participants will be able to use the skills they gained to think critically and create a strategy that protects the Warfighter and the tax payer.
Written by: Samuel Parks, DAU Public Affairs
This article was based on an original piece from Benjamin Newell of 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs Office. It was originally published on July 7, 2017, and may be read in its entirety (HERE)