Enterprise network & computing, coupled with distributed-services technologies are transforming legacy mission and business systems…
This post describes an acquisition concept that I am currently proposing for the DISA led Network Enabled Command Capability (NECC) Program. With this concept the DoD could transform current stove pipe system development and acquisition practices into an evolving enterprise capability through an innovative shared-development strategy that could be the start of a true IT acquisition “game changer.”
Enterprise network & computing, coupled with distributed-services technologies are transforming legacy mission and business systems from stand alone client-server systems to virtualized applications riding enterprise networking and computing infrastructure. Where bandwidth is adequate & reliable, future applications will be provided as a software service thereby freeing operational forces from the complexity of local system installations and life-cycle maintenance. In today’s complex defense environment it is time to adopt a new concept that will rapidly deliver future capability and reduced sustainment costs to our Joint war-fighters.
The U.S. Interstate Highway program, arguably, is one of our Nations most successful shared-development efforts. By leveraging Federal funding with State funding, our Nation has enjoyed a standardized highway infrastructure that is a critical element of our Country’s economic success. Using a variant of this concept to enable Joint enterprise capability development could change the game by creating a shared-development process to deliver and sustain timely, modern, and Jointly standardized capability in support of our operational forces.
Through a shared-development, centralized-control concept, it is possible to deliver leading edge capability within operational cycles that will out-pace changes our warfighters face on the battlefield. At the same time this concept can ensure rapid adoption of virtualized, distributed-services technologies needed to pace warfare capability for future forces. Such a concept could be implemented as follows:
- Eliminate all future IT new start programs and build enterprise capability as upgrades to existing programs-of-record. New start programs are forced into stove-piped systems by the current acquisition process required to fund and approve the program.
- Establish key Non-development Program Managers (NDPMs) over like groups of existing community-of-interest (COI) programs-of-record (POR). Task non-development PM’s with responsibility for programmatic and engineering leadership for that community of interest.
- Create a requirements process to prioritize capability improvements to the operational force infrastructure and applications. Allow pilot programs at operational commands to substitute as the equivalent of formal requirements. Move proven pilot technology and new requirements into evolving programs-of-record through this shared-development process.
- Establish a Program funding control process under each Non-development PM.
- This could be accomplished through a Non-development PM led governance board made up of community-of-interest PM representatives. It could be called the Program Funding and Compliance Board or PFCB.
- The PFCB would be responsible for allocating COI funds and managing program compliance as agreed upon by the Board.
- The COI Non-development PM would hold the final authority for program actions subject to senior acquisition manager concurrence and appropriate oversight gate reviews.
- Establish a System Engineering Standards and Architecture Certification Authority [could be called SESACA] for each COI Non-development PM.
- The COI Chief Engineer would lead along with members from the COI programs-of-record.
- The SESACA would be responsible for recommending funding, and approving specific standards, architecture, and certification requirements on all COI POR development activity.
- This would include technical authority for all development proposals, collaborative engineering environment processes, and all certification requirements.
- Establish a COI POR Configuration Control Board (CCB) chaired by the COI Chief Engineer.
- This CCB would be responsible for the configuration control of legacy and new operational capability.
- This CCB would approve configuration changes for all aspects of the COI and all new COI system configuration elements in coordination with POR level CCB activity
- Review, approve, and manage 12-month shared-development projects using a three-year pipeline model managed through PFCB, SESACA and COI CCB processes. Development would be done within the current POR offices.
- In steady state, this parallel development process would deliver several new project capabilities to the COI capability baseline every 12 months.
- Each project would be prioritized and approved for engineering compliance by the SESACA and then authorized for funding by the PFCB.
- Projects that failed to deliver and certify on time or within proposed specifications would be subject to cancellation and reduced activity in future development cycles.
- Allocate, under COI Non-development PM authority, a matching percentage of requested project funding depending upon:
- The COI POR project request;
- Value to the COI requirement priority;
- Value to COI enterprise capability needs; and,
- Confidence in the developing organization.
- Funding allocation could vary from as high as 100% to as low as 20% depending upon the needs of the COI Non-development Program.
- Certify project deliveries for enterprise compliance to established certification standards as agreed to by the SESACA and approved by the PFCB.
- Delivered software would be maintained in a collaborative COI code repositories such as https://www.forge.mil and made freely available to all official DoD and/or government authorized users.
- COI programs would pull from the COI repository and integrated into the POR fielded capability as needed and in compliance with the COI CCB Joint configuration.
- COI POR program offices would remain responsible for all fielding and sustainment of each POR capability.
In addition to creating a shared-development, centralized control model, the COI Joint capability would be built up from the set of baselines currently supporting operational forces. By evolving these COI baselines through Jointly compliant, services technology upgrades, the operational forces will be “assured continuity of capability” plus a continuous stream of new capability each 12-month cycle.
Each COI program would take advantage of any POR or other service-based technology to propose projects that would best support both Joint needs and component needs. Requested matching funding would represent best estimates of value to the component and overall Joint capability. In addition, new technology emerging from military laboratory, commercial off the shelf, or pilot development activity could be fed back into yearly proposals in support of COI requirements. Such a process would begin to break the back of the onerous acquisition oversight process currently preventing rapidly changing information technologies from enhancing operational force capabilities.
Current programs and new start IT systems are not able to pace the changing threat and support warfare needs. By establishing Non-development Program Managers with matching fund budget allocation, DoD has an opportunity to deliver sustained capability to warfare commanders in a dynamic and more effective shared-development process. Such a shared-development model has not been applied to information technology mission infrastructure and application programs to date. Establishing a strong governance process under a COI Non-development Program Office would make it possible to repeat the successful U.S. Interstate Highway model to develop interoperable Joint enterprise capability. Through assured continuity of current capabilities and aggressive shared-development of future capabilities, our Joint forces, and the Military Component organizations that support them, will be able to meet operational demands and sustain superior warfare capability.