INFOTECH

New Tool to Assist Acquisition Workforce

6/1/2017
By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Photo: Getty

The MITRE Corp. is developing a tool — known as Acquisition in the Digital Age — that could help the defense acquisition workforce streamline its processes and put new technology into the hands of warfighters faster.

AiDA “is what we call a digital platform for acquisition,” said Pete Modigliani, a division chief in MITRE’s national security engineering center. “It provides a resource for the acquisition workforce today … [and also serves] as a prototype to really show the art of the possible for how you can … transform defense acquisition, leveraging the latest digital strategies and tools.”

The Pentagon faces three challenges when it comes to acquiring new technology, Modigliani said. First, the system is inherently complicated. There are “a litany of laws and policies and processes and it’s growing increasingly complex,” he said.

The workforce is also aging, and half of its employees are eligible to retire in the next 10 years, he noted. At the same time, there is a large percentage of personnel that has less than five years experience. “Far too many people across the workforce still lack the years of experience required to … navigate this complex environment,” Modigliani added.

Disorganized knowledge is another inhibitor to the success of defense acquisition, he said. “There is a wealth of information out there — hundreds of policies, guides, reports, memos — but they’re all in static PDF files and scattered across dozens of websites,” he said. “There is a real lack of tools for the workforce. So [for] your average acquisition practitioner, they can’t keep up with the litany of information that’s out there, understand where it is, how to find it, does it apply to their program and then how do they apply it.”
AiDA, which is still a prototype, currently includes a model for agile acquisition practices, Modigliani said. 

“There’s a huge surge of interest in how to do agile development across DoD,” he noted. It “is fundamentally different to a lot of traditional acquisition processes and culture, and this really walks through the different roles, the different contract strategies, the different nuances for each stage.”

This is just the first in a series of tailored models that MITRE plans to build, he added. The not-for-profit organization is currently developing one for rapid acquisition. 

Su Chang, group leader in MITRE’s center for acquisition management and science, said the organization envisions AiDA as the “Google Maps” for acquisition.

“The way that we teach acquisition today is that we give the work force a map … and we tell them to go from New York to L.A. and they have to chart their own pathway to find out their own route,” she said. “What we’ve done is proactively tailored the acquisition process based on the type of product or service that you are acquiring.”

AiDA is free and can be accessed via the web at aida.mitre.org.

Topics: Acquisition, Infotech, Information Technology