The Department of Defense is looking forward to boost the acquisition reform by using efficient restructuring ways to ensure their soldiers to get what they want at the right moment, said Ellen M. Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics to the Senate Armed Services Committee at the hearing of December 7, 2017 for Department of Defense Acquisition Reform Efforts.
The Pentagon’s top acquisition official implied that the purpose of the reform is to avoid bureaucracies that have been delaying acquisitions and hindered the implementation of significant plans in the last few years. According to U.S. DoD News, she confirmed that national authorization acts “have provided the direction and the tools for the department to advance the capabilities required to restore our overmatch, speed the rate in which we field these advanced capabilities, and improve the overall affordability of our fighting forces weapons systems“.
During the hearing, she continually mentioned how Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) is a great model wherein DoD should base its acquisition reform and is very positive that it will improve the accomplishments of the organization by reducing costs and procurement times. Thus, she suggests that if the DIUx example, which proved the right behaviors, is dispersed, the Pentagon will enhance innovation.
The former CEO of Textron Systems added that her organization should focus on developing sophisticated standards and procedures that will improve and facilitate acquisition processes. A great potential for important improvements is the fact that the DoD awards nearly two thousand contracts daily, which will produce better outcomes with every advance made in this direction.
About the DIUx Model
Defense Innovation Unit Experimental also known as Pentagon’s Innovation Experiment is an organization which aims to accelerate commercial technologies for the U.S. Military. It was launched in August 2015, by Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense under Raj Shah Leadership. According to their Q4-2017 Report, $184 million was awarded to 59 pilot contracts and two follow-on contracts in the fields of artificial intelligence, Information Technology, healthcare, and autonomy. They state that the process of pilot contract awards takes about three months, and the most of the funding for these contracts come from DoD’s agencies, military departments, and other partners. DIUx expenditures’ ratio against DoD’s funding agencies for each pilot project is 1:4.
Lord mentioned that she had discussed with Shah for possibilities to build on the success they had with the experimental organization and focus on transaction authorities to accelerate research and development projects. The main objective is to bring modern technologies to warfighters, and they intend to do this by opening opportunities for small innovative contractors under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Furthermore, in the hearing, Lord said that under this program ” DIUx has secured 60 contracts with startups using other transaction authorities to circumvent the traditional acquisition process…],” without referring the funding restraints.
She emphasized the fact that DoD needs to simplify the acquisition methodology in order to facilitate procurement processes and get the “wanted things” on the contracts.