DOD bill would open door to new buying process for IT

The legislation requires the Defense Department to build an agile, speedy acquisition process for IT

The Defense Department is going buy information technology systems differently, based on the final version of the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

In a conference report that reconciles the versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate, Congress said it wants DOD’s buying process to:

  • Involve the user of the new system early on and throughout the acquisition process.
  • Work in multiple, rapidly executed increments for developing a system's capabilities.
  • Take an evolutionary method of buying IT by using early and successive prototyping of the system.
  • Conduct a modular, open-system approach to development.

The process to be developed should be based on the recommendations from the Defense Science Board Task Force on Department of Defense Policies and Procedures for the Acquisition of Information Technology, the report states.

The task force concluded in a report issued in March that the new acquisition process must be agile and capable of delivering IT systems in no more than 18 months. Currently though, it takes much longer. In an analysis of 32 major automated information systems, DOD calculated it took more than seven years on average to get the systems running.

“Without an acquisition process that accommodates — and takes advantage of — IT’s rapid pace of change, future DOD acquisition officials will likely be frustrated in their efforts to equip the nation’s warfighters and weapon systems with the needed information technologies,” the task force wrote.

The task force also presented four areas in need of change, if DOD wants to buy its IT faster. It noted the most important reform is getting qualified people in charge.

The House and Senate must still pass the defense authorization act's conference report before the legislation can go to the president for his signature.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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