Defense

DOD looks to unify software spending for 2020

software (whiteMocca/Shutterstock.com) 

The Defense Department wants software development as a single line item in its 2020 budget. 

DOD acquisition head, Ellen Lord, said the Pentagon is lobbying Congress to get "multiple pilots where we would have just one line for software development so we can move back and forth amongst those different stages" – research and development, production and sustainment -- in the 2020 defense spending bill because software modernization requires new and specific authorities.

"Right now, if you do DevOps, what you're going to be doing is development, production and sustainment all at once most of the time. We have different pools of money that we have to carefully allocate," Lord said during a Pentagon news briefing announcing the congressional release of the Defense Innovation Board's final software acquisition study.

Lord said a single budget line item would give the Defense Department, and its business systems, the creative flexibility to conduct a "meaningful pilot study" and allow software to be funded from one source instead of straddling between R&D, production and sustainment funds.

The software acquisition pilots would launch in 2020, but Lord wouldn't say which areas would be targeted. Instead, she said, there would be a "variety" that includes major platforms, business systems and others that have suboptimal performance "so that we can get the depth and breadth."

The Defense Innovation Board's report detailed 10 lines of effort DOD could -- and Lord indicated would -- start working on immediately, such as creating new software acquisition pathways that prioritize continuous integration. Other recommendations included establishing a digital infrastructure within each military service and agency to facilitate secure and quick software deployment as well as creating a mechanism that allows for authorization to operate  reciprocity within and between programs, the services and defense agencies.

Lord also emphasized during the news briefing that these changes aren't about going agile or implementing DevOps but teaching acquisition professionals how to manage software programs. The goal is also to avoid getting bogged in details "that over-complicate" and stick to "core functionality."

DOD Acquisition and Sustainment expects to deliver an initial implementation plan based on the report's recommendations to Defense oversight committees by early July, Lord said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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