Commercial push renewed

The Pentagon's Nov. 6 announcement that it is revising regulations governing

the purchase of commercial products for information systems doesn't break

new ground so much as confirm trends in procurement, according to military

officials.

Two documents — what the Defense Department calls DOD Directive 5000.1

and DOD Instruction 5000.2 — urge procurement officials to look first at

commercial products for purchase and ensure that there are commercial applications

for DOD systems, said Jacques Gansler, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition,

technology and logistics, in announcing the changes.

"A lot of these changes are not that much different than the 1996 version"

of the rewrites, said Margaret Myers, principal director for Paul Brubaker,

DOD's deputy chief information officer. "They're just encouraging people

to do it even more," she said.

Something of a superficial change — the renaming of Milestones I, II

and III as Milestones A, B and C in the development and production phases

of weapons programs — may take years for DOD officials to get used to, said

Myers, half-jokingly calling it "the most radical" part of the rewrite.

A Defense Logistics Agency program manager said he found the documents'

emphasis on performance-based acquisitions and the purchase of commercial

products encouraging. When he reviewed the draft of the rewrite a year ago,

"I saw it as an encouraging framework from which to manage my program,"

said David Falvey, the business systems modernization program manager for

DLA at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The acquisition documents also show the influence of the Clinger-Cohen

Act of 1996, which established the basis for managing IT programs, on overseeing

the major information systems acquisition programs. An accompanying memorandum

calls on procurement officials to evaluate the requirements for each major

information technology system based on commercial market potential.

Program managers "shall avoid imposing government-unique requirements

that significantly increase industry compliance costs," the memo states.

Preference will be given to commercial items.

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