DOD solicits rapid IT acquisition projects

The Rapid Acquisition Incentives ? Net Centricity portal

The Defense Department begins accepting proposals this week to test ways to streamline information technology procurements so the Pentagon can get new technology into the hands of users more quickly.

Pilot projects will be funded through a central pool of money established as part of the Rapid Acquisition Incentives—Net Centricity initiative, which was launched May 29. Proposals will be accepted through July 31 and projects selected in September.

The program is intended to support development of products and services that support the Pentagon's efforts to transform military operations. In particular, this program will focus on projects that use commercial technology and procurement practices to shorten the time it takes to develop and field systems.

Priscilla Guthrie, DOD's deputy chief information officer, said the department's push toward network centricity is going to accelerate as the research and development efforts of the past several years begin to bear fruit.

"This effort will enable us to jump-start initiatives to transform the department to assist in achieving our goal of net centricity, so timely and accurate information is available not only for the warfighters and decision-makers, but for individuals at all levels within DOD," Guthrie said in a statement.

The Navy's eBusiness Operations Office was selected to spearhead the new program. The Navy was selected because it already had pilot and program management offices in place and therefore could expand on its existing structure rather than starting from scratch.

The Navy's e-business pilot project program funded 43 pilots during the past three years, said Navy Department CIO David Wennergren.

The Service Deputy Surgeons General, for example, recently decided to implement the Medical Appointments on the Web program throughout DOD at a cost of $2 million. The Surgeons General had considered an alternative solution that would have provided less functionality and cost an additional $18 million.

According to a memorandum issued by Defense CIO John Stenbit, DOD expects to file between five and 20 pilot projects each year, each pilot lasting between six and 12 months.

The Navy eBusiness Operations Office will work with components of the armed services and Defense agencies to launch pilots and provide ongoing guidance and oversight to assist project leads, said Lt. Cmdr. Tony Encinias, a deputy director in the office.

"The eBusiness Operations Office may...provide broad technical and management consultation, but is not expected to perform pilot engineering for which the [organization proposing the pilot] is responsible and accountable," Encinias said.

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Guidelines

Qualifications for pilots "under the Rapid Acquisition Incentives—Net Centricity initiative:

* Limited scope, cost and duration.

* Demonstration of a technology's effectiveness or capability.

* Improved department business processes.

* Costs less than $1 million.

* Ability to expand beyond the pilot, potentially to the entire Defense Department.

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