Why DOD is so bad in purchasing software – FCW

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Defense

Why DOD is so bad for buying software

The Department of Defense is one of the largest tech organizations in the world, but it struggles to buy IT, especially software. The DOD can take years to go through the process of purchasing the technology – whether it’s software to operate a fighter jet, tactical radios, or the latest version of Microsoft Office – and at that then the technology may be obsolete.

“The software progresses every 12 to 18 months, so you have at least one iteration, if not two iterations behind in the decisions you made to launch the program in the first place,” Dean Hullings, global defense solutions strategist at Forescout Technologies, says FCW. It also “opens the door for other people to say,” Well, wait a minute. We were not part of that. We also have capabilities. “And that extends the actual acquisition process.”

Hullings said the scuttled Joint Venture Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program is emblematic of DOD’s challenges with purchasing emerging technologies. Pentagon officials wanted a cloud service that would allow civilian personnel and combatants to securely access and share data and digital tools at the highest classification levels. It wasn’t DOD’s first cloud purchase, but it was a big purchase. However, the potentially $ 10 billion contract has come under intense political scrutiny and years of lawsuits and protests fueled by accusations of favoritism in the way the contract was awarded.

DOD officials canceled JEDI and switched to a multi-cloud, multi-vendor alternative called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. In the meantime, the department still does not have the central cloud capacity detailed in the JEDI solicitation in 2017.

The problem is not a lack of money. DOD is set to raise nearly $ 740 billion in fiscal 2022, and investments in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and general computing are expected to increase in the coming years. Plus, technology is not the problem. JEDI competitors Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and IBM have a long history of providing robust cloud services, and a myriad of small and medium businesses are creating new products and improving them every day.

Nonetheless, the DOD continues to struggle to buy the technology it needs. The issue has resulted in numerous congressional hearings to discuss budget reform and procurement processes, Pentagon Death Valley policy papers (the gap between industry development d ‘innovative technology and its deployment by the DOD) and monitoring reports that note where the DOD is failing in its attempts to quickly buy, finance, develop or implement software.

Budget balance

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) In nine years. “Instead, he argued that DOD should take a software-centric approach to technology acquisition.

“The equipment worked for a long time; this is how the world worked, ”Moulton said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Joint Command and Control All Fields Symposium in July. Now, however, “this is really a world of software …. We have to recognize that in many cases it is the software that is really the basic technology, and we just have to be able to install ourselves on a piece of hardware. different as it becomes available. ”

Reforming the budget and procurement processes is a hot topic on Capitol Hill and across the DOD. But as weapon systems rely more on software than hardware, the demand for tangible change intensifies.

In a report released in February, the Hudson Institute recommends that DOD or Congress “sponsor a commission to study holistic changes in planning, programming, budgeting and execution (PPBE) and the allocation process. structured credit to ensure the United States has a long-term competitive advantage. long-term competition while maintaining the constitutional role of Congress. “The report also recommends” a limited-scope pilot project on an alternative resource allocation process, designed to foster adaptability in capacity delivery and aligned around ‘a high priority national security operational challenge’, among other topics.

In addition, the institute states that the software performed 80% of the system functions in the F-22 fighter jet in 2000, compared to 45% for the F-16 in 1982. Today, software is so much a part of it. part of the F-35 that the Government Accountability Office recently advised the DOD to update the aircraft modernization schedule, automate the collection of software development performance data, and set quality performance targets software, which the DOD agreed to do.

During a hearing in May, President Jack Reed (DR.I.) said the Senate Armed Services Committee was focusing on reforms to the PPBE process, which has been in place since the 1960s. “It was a model that was suitable for the industrial age, but we are in a post-industrial age, “he added.

In its final report, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission recommended that the Federal Acquisition Regulation be amended to include cybersecurity requirements and software vulnerability mitigation, while the National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI) said the DOD should speed up its adoption of emerging technologies by streamlining its acquisition. to treat.

“Meeting cost, schedule and performance baselines is rarely an approximation of the value delivered, but is particularly inadequate for measuring and driving the iterative approaches inherent in AI and other digital technologies based on software, ”says the NSCAI report. “Unless requirements, budgeting and procurement processes are aligned to enable faster and more focused execution, the United States will fail to stay one step ahead of its potential adversaries.


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