DOD attempts to pull acquisition into cyberspace

Officials are intent on making the Defense Department, the titanic of all the federal departments, agile and swift in the sea of acquisition to secure the world of cyberspace.

Defense officials laid out how they plan to change DOD to match the dynamism of the private sector and the power of emerging technologies when it comes to operating in cyberspace.

“DOD’s cyberspace acquisition programs will reflect the adaptive nature of cyberspace,” officials wrote in the Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace report released on July 14. Read the report.

Related story:

DOD releases 5-point cyber defense plan

Officials recognized speed as a priority if they want to keep up with how quickly the technological world revolutionizes itself. Acquisition processes and regulations need to match the developmental life cycle, the report said.

“With information technology, this means cycles of 12 to 36 months, not seven or eight years,” the report states.

Last December, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra and others at the Office of Management and Budget brought attention to the deliberate federal procurement system and the years-long budget process. They too pointed out the same hindrances in the procurement process that DOD wants to transform.

“The lag between when the government defines its requirements and when the contractor begins to deliver is enough time for the technology to fundamentally change,” according to OMB’s 25-point implementation plan on federal IT reforms.

Secondly, defense officials wrote they have to work in stages to develop systems and technologies. They need to move away from deploying a large, complex system at one time.

Defense agencies may have to forsake one-of-a-kind systems, at least in the beginning, so they can buy technology more speedily.

“DOD will be willing to sacrifice,” officials wrote in the strategy report.

Officials also said all systems and programs do not need the same level of oversight; agencies need to decide on the level of oversight based on the priority of critical systems.

Finally, defense officials want to create tighter security measures when the department buys software and hardware, as well as any system DOD buys.

“No back door can be left open to infiltration; no test module can be left active,” the report stated.

About the Author

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

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Reader comments

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 A_COL

DOD 5000 – Just Good Program Management
Those criticizing DOD 5000 usually have never read it nor developed a system under rigorous Pentagon oversight so don’t know what they’re talking about. The DOD 5000 series simply forces a Major Acquisition Program Manager to employ good management practices that any good PM should be doing anyway. Granted, it is best suited to major weapons systems development but the basic tenants of good program management are equally applicable to Major Automated Information System (MAIS) acquisitions. DOD 5000 guidance does not impose onerous requirements and oversight but simply rolls up “into one tight shot group” all the already mandated requirements imposed in these Federal documents and applies them to a DOD environment:
OMB Cir A-109, Major Systems Acquisition
OMB Cir A-11, Preparation and Submission of Budget Estimates
OMB Cir A-130, Management of Federal Information Resources
OMB Cir A-123, Management’s Responsibility for Internal Control
Clinger-Cohen Act, Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA), as Amended

As someone that has successfully taken 3 MAIS efforts through a Milestone C, I can attest that DOD 5000 simply ensured I was performing effective management of my programs. The rules are sufficiently flexible to allow for incremental development rolling out spirals every 3-6 months but regardless what acquisition strategy a PM uses, he/she should have some idea of the desired end result and that they are satisfying a valid requirement.

Those criticizing Good PM techniques and DOD 5000 are usually folks that have not bothered to employ good management nor explored how to tailor the DOD 5000 process to suit their development effort.

If you really want to know how I feel about things, check out my Blog at:

Mon, Jul 18, 2011

Good luck on changing DoD IT procurement with all the bureacratic check offs that are in place.

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