Workforce

USAF's Kessel Run looks to industry for developers

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The Air Force's agile software delivery system wants to expand its workforce, and is turning to industry for more people.

During a recent virtual industry day, officials with the Air Force's Kessel Run program fielded questions from private companies what the branch was looking for, and teased future contracting and service opportunities.

Essentially, Kessel Run is looking to hire companies to supply contractors with skills in software development and project management to work on their government-owned software repository.

In responses to questions from would be participants, Kessel Run officials emphasized the program's need to house employees at its Boston headquarters to work in person, noting that past attempts to try remote approaches "failed."

"We want people to want to be here," they said. "We are not trying to do remote, we are not trying to do distributed teams here. We are not there yet, we need people here working with us hand in hand under the same roof."

Before the industry day, Kessel Run posted three software and enterprise contracts between $15 million and $50 million in price. Officials told participants the evaluation criteria has not yet been finalized and would be released along with the request for quotation -- along with future contracting opportunities.

Kessel Run officials also said they're targeting an approval of the acquisition strategy plan for the three contracts by the end of April.

Generally, the officials added, a security clearance would be necessary to work on Kessel Run, though "alternatives may exist."

Industry also asked why Kessel Run is doing in-house software development.

"We are not saying that those software as a service is off the table, but we have a very unique mission set," officials said in response. "There is not a software as a service to do the joint targeting cycle within the commercial world to conduct an air war. Which is why having a culture that understands that ecosystem is so important, and in order to do that you need to immerse yourself in it. We are no longer outsourcing that capability we are [bringing] that back in-house to the government."

They added they are considering "all acquisition options available to us" for the contracts.

While it doesn't plan to change its current closed-platform as a service, looking ahead as the service grows, officials added, Kessel Run "will look at other PaaS options that fit our requirements."

Air Force also said that the Air Mobility Command, as well as its Space and Missile Systems Center, are looking to set up programs similar to Kessel Run.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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