Dynamic Marketplace Framework
The concept of commercial buying in DoD is flawed at its core, starting with the narrow definition of a commercial product or service. Procuring commercial goods and services comes with significant baggage that makes changing its definition or procedures difficult to implement. A fundamental change is required for today’s marketplace. The concept of readily available introduces a new approach to the defense acquisition system. Adopting Recommendation 35 would revolutionize the existing procurement system to meet warfighter needs quickly and efficiently. New statutory authorities would replace the commercial buying authorities for DoD to implement the simplified Readily Available Procedures (RAPs) for procuring RA or RA w/C products under $15 million.
Competition would be achieved through documented market research, recognizing that readily available products and services exist in the market and can be found through a variety of private-sector tools. Market forces set the prices that consumers pay for these products and services because they are publicly available for consumers to compare and evaluate. For procuring RA products, no public advertising would be required. Instead, contracting officers (KOs) will rely primarily on market research and market-based competition. For procuring RA w/C products, written or electronic solicitations would be necessary more often to communicate requirements. All actions above $15 million would follow full and open competition rules, unless the chief of the contracting office provides authorization in writing to use market-based competition. KOs would use standing price quotes and oral/direct solicitations. Additionally, KOs could waive the System of Award Management (SAM) requirement for small and nontraditional businesses, which would make it easier for these entities to do business with DoD. An additional benefit to this new concept of market-based competition is that by not advertising upcoming purchases to the world, individual DoD procurements may be less susceptible to sabotage or fraud.
For readily available products and services, market-based competition means that there would be no solicitation to protest in the preaward phase. Postaward protests would also not be feasible because there would not be an interested party in the form of a disappointed offeror. Greater transparency can be achieved by publicly posting each readily available procurement conducted using market-based competition. This posting would include the purchase order or other record of the transaction, the market research results, and if the award decision was based on anything other than price. Protests, based on these publicly posted files, may be submitted to the competition advocate for the contracting activity based on an assertion that (a) the product or service procured did not meet the definition of readily available, or (b) the contracting officer did not conduct appropriate market research.
The recommended portfolio acquisition executives (PAEs) would be expected to develop and maintain roadmaps of their portfolios, including mission engineering plans. They would be responsible for managing the entire lifecycle of their portfolios, including sustainment management via recommended sustainment program baselines (SPBs).
Recommendation 37 establishes both ECPs and PAEs. ECPs would serve at the level of the military departments, serving to integrate portfolio capabilities at a broad level. They would have no independent decision-making authority, but they would present a common capability portfolio picture to enterprise-level decision-makers. PAEs would serve as decision-making executives in roles similar to those of the PEOs in the current system. They would not report directly to the ECPs, but would coordinate with other PAEs through the ECPs.
As a part of Recommendation 38, the Section 809 Panel determined that doing a comprehensive rewrite of the 5000.02 would have been outside our scope and bandwidth of effort. Also, a substantial rewrite of the 5000.02 was done in 2015. Although changes have been made since, the last major rewrite of the 5000.01 was in 2003.
The current requirements process is under-resourced and lacks speed, agility, and innovation. Its inefficiencies contribute to lengthy development timelines, limited flexibility, and stove-piped systems. Recent DoD reform efforts have focused on improving timelines for requirements documents. Particularly with software, one of the main problems isn’t timelines but rather the need to rigidly define requirements upfront. A portfolio management structure would reduce this imperative and allow for technical tradeoffs throughout the requirements development process.
The current requirements management workforce lacks a career path with standardized roles and responsibilities and progressive experience. The military services each have unique requirements management definitions, and they lack rigor in managing manpower and career path standards. Limited amounts of personnel, professional skills, and experience exacerbate the problems. In order to implement Recommendation 40, there would be a period in which strategies and policies would need to be written and adopted. Ultimately, the benefits that would accrue would include an experience-defined career path, professional training standards, an incentivized workforce, and accountability.
Sustainment can suffer from inadequate governance of sustainment cost, schedule, and performance over the entire lifecycle of a program. The staffs of service acquisition executives also frequently fail to include sustainment professionals at a level of authority equivalent to development and procurement staff. Establishing an SPB would serve as acknowledgement that the sustainment phase of a program is just as important as the development and production phases. The SPB would, as a program exits the production phase, replace the APB, which currently lacks adequately detailed estimates of sustainment costs.
The goal of Recommendation 42 is not to reduce or increase flexibility, but simply to clarify the primary purpose of each major appropriations account category.
Simplifying Procurement and Contracting
Recommendation 74 is focused on consolidation. For example, when a decision is documented in an Acquisition Plan but a separate determination and findings memo is required. In addition to the specific consolidations recommended in Volume 3, the Panel also recommended congress direct DoD to consolidate or eliminate requirements in the FAR and DFARS relative to acquisition plans and acquisition strategies.
Neither will be affected. Recommendation 75 changes FAR Part 19.815 to simply establish a timeframe so that when a requirement is found to no longer be suitable for the 8(a) program, it can be released in a timely manner. Additionally, Recommendation 75 changes FAR Part 22.805(a) to eliminate pre-award delays in the EEO realm that are still enforceable through contract terms and conditions.
DoD has shown a general reluctance toward the adoption and use of FAR 16.5 procedures, despite all the advantages and substantial number of years they have been available. When properly designed and followed, FAR 16.5 procedures save time and money for DoD and industry partners, as well as get needed capabilities to users faster. DoD must increase use of FAR 16.5 procedures by providing practitioners with policy, guidance, and best practices to give them the knowledge, support, and confidence needed to benefit from this important acquisition tool. Recommendation 76 only addresses situations where MA IDIQs are already in use.
No. First, there is a distinction between an investigation and a clearance. Some contracts require investigations (i.e., background check) while others require a clearance (i.e., access to classified information). These requirements are supposed to be based on the underlying principle of the National Industrial Security Program (NISP): a valid need to know. Unfortunately, clearance requirements are sometimes incorrectly applied to unclassified contracts. Recommendation 77 argues that role-based planning would allow contracts to provide support based on job roles: some employees on the contract might need security clearances; others may not. Most government contractors work on unclassified programs and do not require national security clearances. Unnecessary requirements for cleared personnel place a substantial burden on contractor companies and disincentivize hiring new, innovative employees from the commercial marketplace.
The exception at FAR 5.202(a)(5) applies only if the proposed contract action is for utility services and only one source is available. According to FAR Part 41, Utility Services, “the acquisition of natural or manufactured gas when purchased as a commodity does not apply.” Therefore, agencies procuring basic energy as a supply are not currently exempt. Recommendation 78 argues that basic energy should be included on the exemption list.
If adopted, Recommendation 79, will increase the percentage permitted as advanced payments to small businesses for commercial items from 15 percent to 20 percent. The percentage permitted for noncommercial items remains at 100 percent. Modifying existing regulations and guidance on advanced payments will also make it easier to identify and approve eligible small businesses and create more of a marketplace for small businesses to engage in DoD innovation.
Recommendation 80 primarily addresses acquisitions for commercial products and services. Small businesses that compete in this space will not be adversely affected. Additionally, clarification is needed regarding existing law following the COFC’s determination in Analytical Graphics, Inc. v. United States that “there is not a clear order of precedence” between the commercial item preference and the Rule of Two.
There are numerous pathways available, and ultimately acquisition professionals will have to decide which is optimal for their specific situation. By expanding this OTA authority to existing technology, Recommendation 81 is providing another pathway to consider. This authority is anticipated to be used only in exceptional circumstances to address a high priority warfighter need that would be at risk if an OT were not awarded.
A government-wide, mandatory web-based electronic filing and document dissemination system for the procurement protest system already exists. Recommendation 82 would bring the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) in line with the governmentwide approach. Additionally, the Panel believes these authorities should apply to all agency boards, as defined by 41 U.S.C. § 7101, because many of the companies doing business with DoD also do business with other agencies of the federal government.
The monetary thresholds established by Recommendation 83 are summarized as follows: • Small business, accelerated or expedited – up to $250,000 • Other than small business, accelerated – up to $250,000 • Other than small business, expedited – up to $150,000
Streamlining and Improving Compliance
Recommendation 2, found in the Volume 1 Report, effectively removes all government commercial buying clauses from FAR 52.212-4(r), 52.212-5, and DFARS 212.301. The statues from which those clauses are derived did not explicitly state that it applied to commercial buying. This clarification potentially offers much relief to contractors who supply commercial goods and services. Recommendation 62 builds upon Recommendation 2 by addressing the ambiguity of DFARS 252.244-7000, which currently allows prime contractors to determine which clauses flow down to its subcontractors. Updating DFARS 252.244-7000 to include all of the required commercial item flowdown provisions, similar to FAR 52.244-6, provided a single point of reference for contractors to determine which clauses flow down. Recommendation 92 further rescinds Section 849 of the FY 2018 NDAA and Section 839 of the FY 2019 NDAA (which were passed after the publication of Recommendation 2), returning the authority to review flow-down clauses to Congress and away from the FAR and DAR Councils. The Section 809 Panel recommends that Congress explicitly identify which laws apply to commercial contracts and subcontracts, so that the burden on commercial subcontractors under DoD prime contracts is relieved, as intended by FASA.
Supply chain risk issues have grown in importance as the U.S. supply base has grown increasingly global. The DFARS system was not designed to develop policy; it was designed to implement policy that has already been developed. DoD should develop a system for directing risk mitigation requirements outside the DFARS, potentially through a Supply Chain Assurance Council. Within DoD, responsibility for understanding and addressing supply chain security issues should reside within the program manager (PM) system and the requirements process. Supply chain security should not be addressed solely in the contract compliance realm.
The domestic origin requirements of both the BAA and the Berry Amendment are out of sync with modern, global supply chains. The negative consequences of domestic purchasing preferences include increased costs, barriers to entry for some U.S. business, and disincentives to innovate. Products purchased under both BAA and the Berry Amendment can result in premium pricing for DoD. From a national security perspective, DoD must strike a balance between supply chain protection and access to innovation. By granting exceptions to domestic purchasing preferences for commercial goods, DoD is able to open its market research to certain new, innovative products regardless of their origin, while still working to protect its defense-unique supply base.
Recommendation 64b would allow DoD to grant public interest exceptions to the Berry Amendment, which will ensure that it can access advanced, state-of-the-art technology. The public interest exception and procedures to the Buy American Act should be replicated for the Berry Amendment and used when it is deemed necessary for national security reasons. The program manager or requiring agency should directly contribute to the contracting officer’s determination for a public interest exception.
No. Recommendation 65 argues that it is not necessary to repeal these laws or to waive their applications to all DoD acquisitions. Raising the acquisition thresholds to $2 million would reduce the administrative burden on smaller contracts while still covering most of the DoD expenditure in this area.
Yes. Recommendation 66 argues that currently none of the statutes governing the protest process discusses a purpose for protests as part of the procurement process. The lack of an established purpose makes it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of the current protest process. There have also been a number of proposed legislative reforms to the protest process contemplated or passed by Congress, but with no purpose statement to guide those reforms or to measure their effectiveness against.
Currently, the bid protest system allows for protests to be filed with the procuring agency, GAO, and COFC. Challengers that lose at the procuring agency level may bring the same protest to GAO or COFC, or both. Because protestors that lose at GAO may bring the same protest to COFC. This creates the potential for the agency to have to re-litigate the same protest at three different levels—agency, GAO, and then COFC. Relitigating a protest at COFC after an unsuccessful protest outcome at GAO is what is often referred to as two bites. For GAO to achieve its statutory purpose of efficient and expedient resolution of bid protests, the opportunity for a second-bite at COFC must be eliminated. In addition, applying GAO’s protest resolution timeliness rules to COFC will ensure the Court meets its mandate for expeditious resolution in the interest of national security. Recommendation 67 protects the rights of protestors to choose the forum that will hear their protest and eliminates the potential for extraordinary delays that result from relitigating protests at separate forums.
The recommended $75,000 threshold will affect fewer than 4% of protests. What limited benefit these protests provide by way of transparency into such small-dollar procurements is outweighed by the tax dollars spent reviewing and defending them. Recommendation 68 states that Congress should limit the jurisdiction of GAO and COFC to protests of DoD procurements valued above $75,000. This threshold is consistent with the Section 809 Panel’s recommendation for raising the public advertising threshold discussed in the Volume 2 Report and ensures that the U.S. protest process remains consistent with existing free trade agreement obligations. Wouldn’t the contracting officer (KO) be additionally burdened if he or she was required to provide a redacted source selection document and technical evaluations for all debriefings, as proposed by Recommendation 69? Providing additional information should increase the quality of future proposals and help recalibrate DoD contracting activities’ understanding of the value of a debriefing. Perhaps most importantly, providing this additional transparency should minimize the likelihood contractors will file protests due to a lack of information. The 809 Panel found through its interview process that the quality of debriefings varies significantly across DoD. Many of these debriefings leave contractors confused and suspicious because of the lack of information provided.
No. DoD has set up complicated, customized information management systems in response to 10 U.S.C. § 2330a, which have imposed substantial costs and administrative burdens on the defense acquisition system. Recommendation 70 states that DoD should provide Congress (and other oversight bodies) with more useful information on services contracts. Congress should direct DoD to develop and propose a Services Contracting Reporting and Analysis System as a replacement for the existing ICS requirements. This replacement should be specifically designed to support and integrate with DoD’s total workforce management system and acquisition requirements development processes.
DoD’s oversight professionals will benefit from a uniform interpretation of certain professional standards as they apply to government contract oversight. Without a PPG, contracting officers will be underserved and likely confused by inevitable inconsistencies among audit and advisory reports issued by DCAA, DCMA, and independent public accountants. In its Volume 1 Report, the Section 809 Panel recommended that DoD replace the system criteria in DFARS 252.242-7006, Accounting System Administration, with an internal control audit to assess the adequacy of contractors’ accounting systems. The PPG is the product of a working group that was tasked to review and refine the panel’s preliminary recommended accounting system criteria and the internal controls framework for assessment of contractor accounting systems.
The definition of the term significant deficiency for contractor business systems in Section 893 of the FY 2011 NDAA and the DFARS does not align with generally accepted auditing standards for evaluating and reporting on internal control deficiencies. This lack of consistency creates confusion. Recommendation 73 strikes the term and definition in Section 893 of the FY 2011 NDAA and in the DFARS and replaces it with the term material weakness. Additionally, it argues that regulations should include new terms and their respective definitions for significant deficiency and other deficiency.
The Section 809 Panel believes the hiring process would work more effectively if DoD could leverage its most useful hiring authorities to the fullest extent, rather than having too many hiring authorities for the stakeholders in the process to handle. Constraints on direct-hire authorities are undermining DoD’s ability to reform its hiring process.
Direct-hire authorities do not pose a risk to the integrity of DoD hiring. Direct-hire authorities provide exemptions from certain specific aspects of the hiring process, such as the ranking and rating of applicants, but they do not eliminate the requirements of the merit-based hiring process. Hiring statutes and DoD guidelines would both continue to govern merit-based hiring and ensure that abuses would not occur. Direct-hire authorities have been in widespread use for years and remain popular with hiring managers and human resources officers alike, without any evidence to suggest the appearance of improper hiring practices.
AcqDemo has performed more effectively than the GS system during its long period as a demonstration project. It has proven to be more flexible than the GS system; employees are more motivated to earn contribution awards; retention is higher among high-contributing employees than low-contributing employees; and DoD possesses more powerful tools to compete for talented employees during the recruitment process. AcqDemo’s continued implementation is undermined, however, by the division between AcqDemo and the GS system as dual personnel systems for the acquisition workforce. Recommendation 26 places the entire acquisition workforce under AcqDemo to allow DoD to focus on the system’s implementation and management.
No. AcqDemo offers greater flexibility to supervisors in evaluating employee contributions to an agency’s mission and providing financial awards accordingly. Those awards are determined through a process that incorporates predetermined factors and includes checks on the supervisor’s decision. While supervisors do possess a degree of latitude in evaluating their employees, the system is structured to ensure that supervisor decisions are based upon the merits of an employee’s performance. Additionally, the Panel encourages transparency in the evaluation process to ensure that employees understand the basis for award decisions.
The Section 809 Panel’s recommendations regarding the role of Human Capital Initiatives (HCI) in managing the fund are designed to address problems and ensure that DoD properly utilizes every dollar that is available for DAWDF. The right response is to improve DAWDF’s management structure, rather than reducing funds for a program that has proven enormously beneficial for the acquisition workforce since its creation. Furthermore, resourcing DAWDF as a one-year appropriation undermines the stability of the program and reduces its effectiveness in supporting workforce development. Workforce management policies, such as tuition incentives and educational training programs, require multiyear commitments to guarantee that DoD can deliver on these policies for its employees. Multiyear funding also ensures continuity in execution and minimizes the risk that DoD employees would fail to receive the assistance that was promised to them.
DAU’s current resources would need to be restructured to reach a more optimal balance that delivers learning to enhance performance at the precise time it is needed. Currently, there is an overwhelming backlog of training requirements as a result of the current structure where the AWF member is not able to be trained in for real-time mission requirements in support of the warfighter. Using a third party professional certification model would reduce the demand of DAU training courses and shorten the preexisting course to be truly DoD-unique.
DAWIA has succeeded in professionalizing the DoD AWF. The number of DoD AWF members with baccalaureate and advance degrees has steadily increased. Having specific credit requirements in statute, however, may hinder hiring managers’ ability to choose the right person for a job. DoD should be allowed to determine for itself if specific credit requirements should be applied to any particular DoD AWF career fields. Eliminating the statutory mandate would not preclude DoD from instituting its own educational requirements if it chose to do so. DoD would have the flexibility to make that determination for the AWF based on its own evaluation, rather than a congressional directive. This flexibility would allow DoD to become more agile in hiring candidates with backgrounds and education that no one imagined when DAWIA passed, such as data analysis, cyber security, supply chain management, or artificial intelligence.
How DoD establishes its policies and funding to support these initiatives will dictate the range and success they will have on influencing the workforce. Most DoD agencies have IT platforms in place to support tailoring of this kind. Furthermore, the functional communities have already invested a plethora of resources into establishing a list of competencies and required output each competency task could be assigned. This model isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, but rather a requirement to have workforce members demonstrate their occupational competencies and proficiencies using the supervision and systems already in place. The Section 809 Panel considered feedback from leaders in DoD that elaborated on how ‘change’ occurs in DoD verses the private sector. The panel considered how instituting a competency model, where employees would need to demonstrate their skills using a proficiency standard would require a DoD-wide culture change to the way business is done. To implement change effectively, this change is required of the entire workforce, simultaneously, within 24 months.
Recommendation 61 describes a framework for avoiding OCI violations within the statutory authority of the AWF PPEP itself. The framework is intended to clearly define the boundaries of acceptable activities for a private-sector company and its participating employees. With the AWF PPEP’s interpretation of OCI clearly defined, the private sector will simply need to abide by the PPEP rules to avoid the risk of an OCI protest.
DoD purchases IT solutions in inconsistent ways that are not always compatible with the way commercial industry sells these solutions in the market. Recommendation 43 creates a new contract type for IT solutions. A fixed-price resource units contract type would provide a standardized approach that is tailored to the unique aspects of consumption-based solutions. These characteristics include incremental funding, capturing reductions in market prices, paying in arrears, and explicit authority to use the contract type under FAR Part 12, Acquisition of Commercial Items.
Technically they can; however, service contracting rules were not developed with consumption-based solutions in mind. Service contracting rules are geared toward people (labor) performing tasks, wages/rates, headcount, and progress reports. With consumption-based solutions, labor is not the dominant feature. Measurement of contract performance is purely based on the solution. The back-end that makes the solution work – including people, hardware, and/or software – are essentially a black box to the government customer. Applying service contracting rules to consumption-based solution procurements is putting a square peg in a round hole. Recommendation 43 seeks to rectify this misfit.
Newer legislation, including FITARA and the FY18 NDAA, give the CIO specific authority over IT programs and budgets. Specifically, the FY18 NDAA requires CIO certification of the proposed budget (FYDP) and puts the CIO in charge of “developing, adopting, or publishing” standards for all of the IT and cyber capabilities that run on the Military Services’ and Defense Agencies’ networks. Additionally, cybersecurity requirements exist in numerous places, including FISMA, the FITARA scorecard, and in DoD 5000.02. A cybersecurity strategy is required as part of the program protection plan for all IT programs. Recommendation 44 argues that CCA oversight and authority in this area is duplicative and no longer needed.
Recommendation 45 creates a pilot program for IT consultants. Based on the results of the pilot, it may be expanded to all types of independent consultants. IT was chosen as the initial focus area of the pilot because work in IT often requires quick reaction and unique experience with state-of-the-art technologies. These consultants are hard to access within the limitations of federal hiring and contracting practices. Highly qualified professionals often choose to work as independent contractors in the gig or freelance economy, often finding work through online talent marketplaces. The government must work to adopt commercial practices in managing its workforce, beginning with IT specialists. The bureaucratic government model no longer fits the way people want and need to work in the information economy.
No. Recommendation 46 recommends that portfolio managers, or their relevant milestone decision authorities, should be given decision authority over Below Threshold Reprogramming (BTR) actions that occur within the same portfolio and appropriations account. Decision authority over BTRs crossing portfolio lines should be held by the relevant comptrollers.
Recommendation 47 restores reprogramming thresholds to match their previous levels relative to inflation. Due to special transfer authority and other tools for reprogramming given to DoD, GTA limit does not appear to unduly constrict DoD. Additionally, during most discussions with DoD acquisition personnel, reprogramming complaints were related to the perceived low thresholds for BTR thresholds for Procurement and RDT&E. DoD personnel did not express the same level of frustration at either the individual BTR threshold for O&M or the broader thresholds applied to GTA in appropriations laws.
As of 2018, the need to reallocate large amounts of funding to specific operational needs such as airlift squadrons, aerial refueling, and armored vehicles has become less urgent. DoD has also adopted new financial systems and is improving internal controls as it works toward financial statement auditability. The BTR reports to Congress are now submitted each fiscal quarter in a timely manner and in uniform spreadsheet formats. The problems that led to the “lesser of 20 percent” rule have been addressed through improved business systems and internal controls.
The key concern is that the 80/20 rule specifically targets end-year spending surges, instead of the periodicity-based constraints that incentivize such surges. By requiring an agency to limit its August and September obligations to 20 percent or less, Congress by definition compels agencies to obligate at least 80 percent of appropriations in the preceding 10 months. In this way, the 80/20 rule may simply create a new, less noticeable obligation surge in July. The 80/20 rule may, in fact, exacerbate the negative effects of periodicity-based budgeting. Recommendation 49 argues for congressional approval of a simple, small-percentage carryover authority for DoD’s O&M accounts. This proposal offers the best opportunity to deal with periodicity-related problems as a first step.
Congressional use of anomalies may mitigate some of the more high-profile problems that occur when DoD is under CR funding. The use of anomalies, however, will not address needs that do not rise to the level of congressional visibility. Defense acquisition officials report that the current process for requesting inclusion of anomalies in CRs is ineffective. Also, there are signs that the urgency of DoD’s new start needs may be increasing Recommendations 50 through 54 address these challenges through increased flexibility of activities allowed under CRs.
If greater flexibility were granted to DoD than to other Executive Branch agencies under CRs, it could dilute the incentive for members of Congress to enact regular appropriations. If these incentives decreased to the point at which regular appropriations were not enacted, it could produce an indirectly harmful effect on agencies other than DoD.
No. In it's research, the Section 809 Panel found that PPA costs both contractors and DoD time and money. DFAS employs four full-time staff whose sole job is to process MOCAS PPA-related payments. An industry estimate of employee salaries and related costs indicated each PPA transaction costs the government approximately $14 and costs industry approximately $6.
DoD has elected not to take advantage of Section 1077 authority, preferring the existing Working Capital Fund (WCF) structure, policies, and processes. Recommendation 56 argues that DoD should exercise this opportunity and put in place a pilot program for IT investments as authorized in the FY 2018 NDAA. The pilot’s success would help determine whether a similar process could be applied toward other investments for which savings would be used to reimburse the fund and allow contractors to be paid on an annual basis. Re-engining aircraft is one area where such a model might be applied.
No. Extending the expired funds period would in no way change the intended use of expired funds. The expired funds cannot be used for new obligations. DoD should extend the expiration period to 8 years, allowing complex program acquisitions ample time to close out contracts without placing current funds at risk. This practice would arguably serve the interests of Congress, by aligning disbursements more closely with the original intent of appropriations laws. It also would reduce the burden caused by addressing cancelling-year efforts and refocus efforts on actually closing out contracts.
To reach a steady state workload, DCMA would need process improvements and possibly additional resources to address approximately 15,000 over-aged contract audits annually for 3 years starting in FY 2020, and the additional resources would require approximately $3.5 million or more annually. To prevent reoccurrence of this backlog, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DoD Chief Management Officer (CMO) to work with USD(C) and USD(A&S), to perform further analysis that describes the entire scope of the problem to develop an end-to-end integrated streamlined process.
Congress has long permitted and encouraged DoD to communicate with the marketplace, and DoD has tried to move in that direction. Recommendation 84 provides a direct way to overcome acquisition workforce cultural resistance is through statutory direction. Firm congressional direction can transcend DoD’s cautious tendencies and hesitancies regarding private sector communication. Without proper communication with industry, DoD will struggle to obtain the most innovative products from industry. Lack of communication adds time to lengthy acquisitions, and it makes it harder for DoD to access the same industry creativity that is valuable to nonstate actors and near-peer competitors.
No. All of the rules that currently exist to govern behavior remain in force at 5 CFR 2635.101. Those standards mandate honesty, impartiality, and integrity in the acquisition process and would continue with full effect. They have also proven to be successful: conduct breaches are isolated and rare, and they would continue to be so if these recommendations are implemented. Additionally, appropriate training and education for the acquisition workforce would ensure that they would understand the boundaries of proper behavior when communicating with the marketplace.
DoD buying operations are located on DoD facilities and include a confusing mix of operational units, tenant organizations, organizational acronyms and symbols, often-inaccessible websites and poorly maintained organizational charts. All of these issues render it difficult for potential new suppliers to forge relationships with DoD. The Market Liaisons established by Recommendation 85 would assist suppliers in navigating the confusion of the defense acquisition process, thereby making DoD more accessible to the marketplace. The Market Liaison would serve as a point of contact for private suppliers, capable of answering questions and connecting them to the proper officials to address any concerns. The position would not impose any additional duties upon the acquisition process or the stakeholders within it.
Current FAR guidance for market research falls far short of the necessary foundation to support effective DoD communication with industry. Useful guidance is divided among several different FAR parts, and the organization of the guidance is confusing. Clear statutory definitions of market research and improved FAR guidance will ensure that DoD employees understand the tools available to them to enhance coordination with industry regarding market research.
DoD’s reluctance to communicate with industry creates an information barrier that hampers its ability to foresee technology opportunities and expand industry participation. As a result, DoD struggles to gain the knowledge and insight that it needs regarding emerging technologies and capabilities in industry. A greater market intelligence capability, as established in Recommendation 87, would allow DoD to continually assess market research and technology trajectories, while making the intelligence available to DoD officials in real time.
Recommendation 88 holds that there may be some pushback in DoD, but the main challenge is developing the systems to share data. Simultaneously allowing a dozen people to access a shared hard drive is a relatively easy task, but simultaneously allowing millions of people to access information, while maintaining adequate security, is more challenging. For this reason, DoD will need to step up efforts to bring in qualified people with backgrounds in data science, computer science, and cybersecurity to fulfill this mandate. Recommendation 88 argues that once implemented, these actions will greatly improve the efficiency of DoD’s business functions.
Congress has recently taken major steps to try to break down the challenges with data siloes via open-data requirements in the FY 2018 NDAA. Whenever Congress enacts a new legal authority, it takes some time for awareness of that authority to filter down to the community of practitioners. The Section 809 Panel believes that as DoD becomes more aware of the benefits of these newer hiring authorities and becomes comfortable with them, they’ll be used more widely. DoD should work to improve developing in-house talent. DoD should foster people who can not only perform rote data analysis tasks, but also figure out creative ways to use data for strategic analysis. DoD leadership needs to take greater advantage of existing hiring authorities to bring in more people with these skills and give them free rein to develop those skills.
As described in Recommendation 89, nonstandardized data architectures can lead to inefficiency, poor communication, and additional labor and software maintenance costs. They can also reduce labor mobility, since the data architectures used in one office may be so specialized that workers there won’t be able to easily transition to a different office. Ad hoc data architectures also create a data translator phenomenon.
At first, this recommendation appears to be a daunting task. The Section 809 Panel has recommended an iterative approach, led by the CMO, to the maximum extent practicable. When the technologist and business process experts start looking at individual architectures and IT systems, they’ll find that some will be relatively difficult to consolidate and might produce relatively little benefit. The initial focus should be on the lowest-hanging fruit, meaning the data architectures that cost the most to maintain and are relatively easy to transition offices away from.