Case Studies: DoD Acquisition Strategies
The 3 case studies that identified ways an industry can influence acquisitions by the DoD are titled Cyber Acquisition: Policy Changes to Drive Innovation in Response to Accelerating Threats in Cyberspace, Early supplier integration in the US defense industry, and Space Acquisitions: DOD Faces Significant Challenges as it Seeks to Address Threats and Accelerate Space Programs.
CASE STUDY 1: CYBER ACQUISITION: POLICY CHANGES TO DRIVE INNOVATION IN RESPONSE TO ACCELERATING THREATS IN CYBERSPACE
DATE: Nov. 13, 2018
WHAT IT IS ABOUT
- The case study is about the policy changes needed to drive innovations in cyber acquisition in response to the accelerating and increasing threats in cyberspace.
- The US faces a great risk in the cyber domain which resulted to the quick evolution of the cybersecurity industry.
- This paper presents the logic for the needed changes to the existing policy of cyber-specific acquisition.
- This paper also discusses the problems with the current acquisition system.
- This paper also discusses some of the promising DoD acquisition pilot programs.
HOW THE CYBERSPACE INDUSTRY INFLUENCE DOD
- “In 2016, the DoD disclosed that the median duration for Major Defense Acquisition Programs was more than 6.9 years. However, for Major Automated Information Systems life cycles had a median of 5 years for programs before 2009 and only 3.2 years for programs after 2009.”
- The existing acquisition processes were designed to develop warfighting systems that sometimes last for decades.
- “They were not designed for any features of the cyber domain, nor for the near-instantaneous properties of cyber decision and action.”
- James Geurts, former SOCOM acquisition executive, is quoted saying,“[v]elocity is my combat advantage. Iteration speed is what I’m after because if I can go five times faster than you, I can fail four times and still beat you to the target . . . That’s really what we’re going after here.”
- In February 2018, SOCOM acquisition executive, James H. Smith explained, “[w] e’ve been fortunate to have an amazingly consistent leadership philosophy for the last 20 years: Clearly communicate our expectations for risk management and empower the team to make decisions at the appropriate level .” The rest of the DoD should follow that example.
GOALS OF THE STUDY
- For DoD to improve its acquisition it must pertain to its cyber capabilities.
- To propose ideas and framework for addressing the challenges
Three Ideas that can speed acquisitions:
- Manage Rather than Avoid Risk - Especially Time-Based Risks
- Delegate Authority to the Lowest Reasonable Level
- Treat Different Problems Differently
CASE STUDY 2: EARLY SUPPLIER INTEGRATION IN THE US DEFENSE INDUSTRY
DATE: June 27, 2018
WHAT IT IS ABOUT
- This study is about the complex and specialized acquisition and procurement activities in the US defense industry.
- It also tackles the call on having an Early Supplier Integration (ESI) adaptation.
HOW INDUSTRIES CAN INFLUENCE DOD
- It is found in the study that suppliers can impact the acquisition in these three activities: system design involvement, design adjustment opportunities, and design for manufacturability/assembly/testability involvement.
- “There was a perception from the supplier that they could take change direction from engineering without formal change orders, resulting in cost that could have been avoided and damage to our negotiations.”
- “We do not see the requirement for certified cost or pricing data (FAR 15.403) inhibiting contractors from formalizing supplier relationships in advance of product design completion. In many cases, the prime contractor would need the supplier’s information in order to complete the product design. If this is a commercial transaction, (where the prime provides the government a Commercial Item Determination), it is even easier to see supplier involvement up front. In many cases, early supplier involvement leads to a more informed competitive proposal as well.”
- “I think the focus should be on the Defense Contract Management Agency, as the auditing arm can be so threatening that it drives industry to “overdo” the price reasonableness benchmark and create unnecessary work.”
GOALS OF THE STUDY
- This study wanted to identify the critical early supplier integration activities and acquisition practices that the defense industry should adopt.
- This study concluded that Early Supplier Integration (ESI) activities, moderators and performance categories also apply to the defense industry
CASE STUDY 3: SPACE ACQUISITIONS: DOD FACES SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES AS IT SEEKS TO ADDRESS THREATS AND ACCELERATE SPACE PROGRAMS
DATE: April 3, 2019
WHAT IT IS ABOUT
- This study is about the needs of the DoD space system and its undertaking on the new major acquisitions to replenish its missile warning, protected communications, navigation, and weather satellites.
- This also contains the recommended acquisition best practices from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
HOW THE INDUSTRY CAN INFLUENCE DOD:
- “According to Air Force Space Command and others, US space systems face intentional and unintentional threats that have increased rapidly over the past 20 years. These include radio frequency interference (including jamming), laser attacks, kinetic intercept vehicles, and ground system attacks. Additionally, the hazards of the already-harsh space environment (e.g., extreme temperature fluctuations and radiation) have increased, including numbers of active and inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, and other fragments and debris.”
- It was found that in October 2014 some of these options could have beneficial impacts on the acquisition. For example, acquiring smaller, less complex satellites may require less time and effort to develop and produce.
- This may be in part due to improved requirements discipline, as more frequent production rates may allow program managers to delay new requirements to the next production cycle instead of incorporating them into ongoing timelines midstream.
- In October 2018, It was found that DOD faced mounting challenges in protecting its weapon systems—satellites and their ground systems included—from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.
- It was reported that this was due to the computerized nature of weapon systems, DOD’s late start in prioritizing weapon system cybersecurity, and DOD’s understanding of how to develop more secure weapon systems.
GOALS OF THE STUDY
- To provide an update on DOD’s space acquisitions, focusing more on the challenges of facing the acquisitions of new space systems.
Best Practices GAO Has Identified for Space and Weapons Systems Acquisitions:
- Prioritize investments so that projects can be fully funded and it is clear where projects stand concerning the overall portfolio.
- Follow an evolutionary path toward meeting mission needs rather than attempting to satisfy all needs in a single step.
- Match requirements to resources—that is time, money, technology, and people—before undertaking new development efforts.
- Research and define requirements before starting programs and limit changes after they are launched.
- Ensure that cost estimates are complete, accurate, and updated regularly.
- Commit to funding projects before they begin fully.
- Ensure that critical technologies are proven to work as intended before programs begin.
- Assign more ambitious technology development efforts to research departments until they are ready to be added to future generations (or increments) of a product.
- Use systems engineering to close gaps between resources and requirements before launching the development process.
- Use quantifiable data and demonstrable knowledge to make decisions to proceed, covering critical facets of the program such as cost, schedule, technology readiness, design readiness, production readiness, and relationships with suppliers.
- Do not allow development to proceed until certain thresholds are met—for example, a high proportion of engineering drawing completed or production processes under statistical control.
- Empower program managers to make decisions on the direction of the program and to resolve problems and implement solutions.
- Hold program managers accountable for their choices.
- Require program managers to stay with a project to its end.
- Encourage program managers to share bad news and encourage collaboration and communication.
- Hold suppliers accountable for delivering high-quality parts for their products through activities including regular supplier audits and performance evaluations of quality and delivery.
We started the search by looking for case studies that are within the range of dates required. We searched in different government websites, military websites, and third-party websites such as Emerald Insights. However, we were not able to get direct quotes from the defense executives and industry executives, but we considered the qualitative reasons expressed in the case studies as a proxy for the research. For the best approaches, we reviewed the results from the case studies as the best strategies and one case study even have best practice recommendation for DoD. Everything else was straightforward.
To summarize, we were able to provide three case studies that show examples of ways an industry can influence DoD’s acquisitions. Within the time range provided (2018-2019), DoD has been mainly interested in the cyber security industry as it seeks to address cyber threats as well as space security. We have provided the requested information for the case studies and outlined these in the Key Findings above.