Integrated acquisition, agile procurement and defense tech spending

GAO: Service chiefs want acquisition requirements set upfront

The military service chiefs want acquisition requirements to be better integrated before programs start, according to a new Government Accountability Office study.

"Most service chiefs told GAO they were concerned that after weapon system requirements are handed to the acquisition process, requirements are changed or added by the acquisition community (sometimes referred to as 'creep'), increasing the capabilities and cost of the system," the report states.

Some service chiefs told GAO they are not always involved in the acquisition process and are often surprised when programs experience problems with cost, schedule and performance. Current and former chiefs agreed that chiefs should be more involved in acquisition programs.

The watchdog's findings come at a time when Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's top acquisition official, has raised concerns about what he sees as the over-empowerment of service chiefs in both the House and Senate fiscal 2016 defense authorization bills.

NGA pushes agile procurement

One of the leaders of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has officially challenged NGA's acquisition workforce to use more agile procurement methods.

In an open letter to agency employees, Deputy Director Susan Gordon said the NGA Acquisition Regulation Implementation, the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation have more flexibility than they're given credit for, but their implementation had become somewhat hidebound.

"Sometimes, opportunities associated with these flexibilities are lost or, worse, ignored due to our agency's misinterpretation, reliance on past practices, or competing priorities (i.e., the drive for contract consolidations to ease workload or centralize management)."

As a remedy, Gordon echoed the mantra of agencies, such as the General Services Administration, that advocate using the agile techniques and templates embodied in the Office of Management and Budget's TechFAR Handbook and Digital Services Playbook. Both documents highlight flexibilities in the regulations that enable acquisition agility.

Senate Appropriations Committee advances defense bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure on June 11 that would allocate $575.9 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2016. The 27-3 vote moves the bill to the full Senate.

The bill includes $200 million for assessing cyberthreats to defense equipment and $400 million for the Rapid Innovation Fund, an acquisition vehicle designed to increase the Pentagon's collaboration with small businesses. The bill would also provide $400 million for a new "technology offset fund" for investments in cutting-edge technologies, according to a summary from the Defense Subcommittee.

The House Appropriations Committee approved its version on June 2.

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