INDUSTRY ALERT: IT Acquisition Reform, New Roadmap Unveiled - Read more ...

By Sandra I. Erwin
If you are a Defense Department contractor in the IT business, this is a must-read document. The IT Acquisition Advisory Council unveiled thisroadmap last week at an industryconference in Washington, D.C.
Council officials believe there is now growing momentum for reform in the way the Pentagon buys IT systems and services. Its president, former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, says change is long overdue. The council says that the requirements generation process for IT is flawed; and users have little faith in the process, as it frequently does not deliver critical capabilities on time or on budget. Wynne says this is a fixable problem, but not with the same kind of thinking that got us here in the first place. Congress appears more engaged than ever, and with the help of GAO, is beginning to recognize failure patterns in recent funding legislation for DHS and Defense. The council estimates that the reforms it proposes in the roadmap could save taxpayers $10 billion a year. That is huge considering that the Pentagon spends $30 billion a year on IT.
IT-AAC also is encouraged by the high-level support for reform coming from Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Ashton Carter. The biggest problem in IT acquisition is that it follows the same process as traditional weapon systems, Lynn said at the conference. “In IT, the normal acquisition process doesn't work.” It takes on average 81 months for a defense program to complete development. IT moves so quickly that by the time the Pentagon fields equipment, the technology is four to five generations behind. “A new approach taking shape at the Defense Department,” Lynn said. “We must be mindful of using commercial technology, open design protocols, improve current platforms, not use proprietary technology. The challenge, he said, is “how do we organize ourselves to incorporate the latest technology into our systems and be able to update them?”

Topics: Business Trends, Doing Business with the Government, Infotech

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