DOD aims to improve procurement communications

Katrina McFarland

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Katrina McFarland

The Defense Department is considering sharing potential procurement requirements with industry even if those draft requirements never take effect, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Katrina McFarland said April 16 at an industry conference in Washington.

"The Joint [Chiefs of] Staff has come to visit, and they're interested in looking at how they can allow for the exposure of information on the generation of requirements early on and how would that be protected from the sense that government may never ever actually buy this requirement," McFarland said at a National Defense Industrial Association-hosted event.

Giving industry a peek at draft requirements can get government and defense contractors on the same page for their budget priorities, she said. The idea is for the government to signal procurement criteria without being on the hook for following through on those criteria.

McFarland said that acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Alan Shaffer already floats early procurement requirements to industry for one program in his portfolio, and indicated that sharing early requirements with industry is a major agenda item for her office.

In lean budget times, the DOD is looking to innovation in technology R&D to cut costs, McFarland added. Consider your own methods of cost-cutting, she beseeched defense professionals, and asked them: "How do you marry that up with what our business is so that we are already prepared for the next generation of equipment?"

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.

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Reader comments

Tue, Apr 29, 2014 John weiler United States

I have yet to see a program change requirements or acquisition strategy when industry is given a chance to comment. Industry rarely tips their hand after an acquisition is announced, and often focuses on how best to game the flaws in the requirements process. It would be more valuable to reestablish the Solution Architecture Working Groups that OMB and ICH supported years ago that helped define the realm of the possible prior to kicking off formal requirements. The second change would be embracing a Services and Capability Based acquisition model like AF ASAP and BTA's Capability Assessment Method (CAM).

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