Intercepts: Web extra

Air Force in a Spiral

Normally, a 60 percent solution is not something any organization would be interested in. But when a tool is providing warfighters with greater functionality than they ever had before, Air Force officials will take that 60 percent and use spiral development take them higher, said Maj. Gen. Craig Weston.

The Air Force would accept "60 percent operations today and get to 100 percent in succeeding spirals," said Weston, the vice commander of the Air Force Materiel Command's Electronic Systems Center (ESC), Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. "We need trust from the test and development community that if they get 60 percent today," they will be funded to get to 100 percent.

Weston made his comments at last week's Air Force IT Day, which was sponsored by Northern Virginia chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) International.

The Air Force's Infostructure Architecture Council (IAC) is taking that approach to heart as it recently selected System Architect from Popkin Software as the service's standard architecture tool, said Col. William Nelson, deputy director of C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) architecture and assessment, in the office of the deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration at Air Force headquarters.

"Popkin is our preferred tool, but they are allowed to use others," Nelson told FCW at an enterprise architectire seminar last week sponsored by the Bethesda, Md., chapter of AFCEA, adding that the service signed a contract Oct. 30 for about 123 licenses.

Nelson acknowledged that the Popkin tool is not perfect but said the Air Force thought it was time to move forward with a standard architecture tool and will re-visit the issue as the technology and training practices evolve.

In related news, although the Air Force is still migrating to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating system, the service is assessing Windows XP. Nelson said the Air Force would soon allow selected personnel to use XP for "a specific use case on laptops," where it outperforms Windows 2000, he said, declining to provide any more details.

Air Force Moving to Award Term

The Air Force will issue a new policy by the end of this month removing current restrictions on making "award term" contracts.

Brig. Gen. Darryl Scott, deputy assistant secretary for contracting in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, said award term deals are done in the exact same way as "award fees," but instead of simply earning a financial percentage bonus, vendors earn additional terms on a contract by meeting performance requirements.

"It's a more effective way to incentivize good performance," Scott said during last week's last week's Air Force IT Day.

As long as competition doesn't suffer, rewarding vendors for their performance makes sense to us.

Architecture Web Site on Launch Pad

As the Air Force continues its quest to implement an enterprise IT architecture, the service's Chief Architect's Office (CAO) is developing a Web site designed to capture and re-use the architecture work being done throughout the Air Force.

Charlie Martinez, deputy chief architect in the Air Force chief information officer's office, said the site would be used to feed an Air Force architectures repository. It will include a catalog of brief descriptions of the architecture development work being done at Air Force organizations and serve as reference tool for individuals, and the service as an enterprise.

Martinez, who was on active duty until August and is now with the Mitre Corp., said the Web site is under construction and the short-term goal is to register the architectures and establish the catalog. After that, a decision will have to be made about which architectures can go in the unclassified repository, and which ones will require classified access.

An Outsourcing Success Story

When the Army selected Computer Sciences Corp. as its application service provider (ASP) for the 10-year, $680 million Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) in 1999, many in the service were up in arms because more than 200 jobs were going to be privatized as part of the initiative.

But this outsourcing tale has a happy ending, said Larry Asch, chief of the business and operations office in the LMP program office. He said about 215 government jobs were outsourced in July 2000 and said the results have been "very successful."

"Those jobs have evolved into risk mitigation and legacy sustainment [positions]...and CSC has done an excellent job with that," Asch said.

Jeff Plotnick, vice president and general manager of supply chain solutions at CSC, agreed. "The [Army] folks came over and turned out to be great resources and very hard working."

The Army personnel helped to build and sustain the legacy systems that are being integrated under LMP, and they have been invaluable as CSC employees, Asch said, adding that "turnover is almost nil" among the former Army employees.

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