Congress Urges Defense IT Acquistion Overhaul - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Software // Information Management
12:03 PM
Connect Directly

Congress Urges Defense IT Acquistion Overhaul

Report recommends better planning for upgrades, early prototyping and deployment, and "modular open system" approaches to software and system development.

Provisions in a bill that passed the House of Representatives last week would push the Department of Defense to try out new acquisition processes for information technology purchases. The provisions, part of a Defense appropriations bill, allow the Secretary of Defense to test new IT acquisition procedures on up to 10 IT programs each year. The bill follows an April Defense Science Board report and numerous comments by federal CIO Vivek Kundra and other observers urging acquisition reform.

"Every 18 months you're going to have major, transformational changes when it comes to information technology," Kundra said in a recent interview with InformationWeek Government. "Unfortunately, if you look at the processes, if it takes 18 months to two years to go through a procurement cycle, you've already missed one revolution, one cycle."

That echoes the findings in the Defense Science Board report, which said Department of Defense acquisition of IT takes too long, doesn't make incremental upgrades easy, and doesn’t help ameliorate budget overruns. That report recommended a new IT acquisition "platform" and involvement on the part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

"Fixing the DOD acquisition process is a critical national security issue -- requiring the attention of the secretary of defense," the report said. "DOD needs a strategic acquisition platform to guide the process of equipping its forces in an expeditious, cost-effective manner."

The report recommended that under secretary of Defense for acquisitions, technology, and logistics Ashton Carter create a new, "streamlined" process that builds in easy incremental upgrades, early prototyping and deployment, and "modular open system" approaches to software and system development.

A number of voices have long argued for radical changes to Defense IT acquisition processes. John Weiler, executive director of the Interoperability Clearinghouse, for example, has called for significant overhauls to the use of contractors and systems integrators in addition to incentives for on-time, under budget delivery and better performance measurement. "We're stuck in a system that uses 1940s acquisition processes not designed for IT," he said in a recent interview.

If the Defense spending bill passes the Senate and gets signed into law, the DoD would be required to measure the effectiveness of the new acquisition methods and report any activities to Congress in annual reports. Those reports would include descriptions of all IT programs involved in the trial acquisition processes as well as an evaluation of those processes.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on leading-edge government IT -- and how the technology involved may end up inside your business. Download the report here (registration required).

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
What Becomes of CFOs During Digital Transformation?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  2/4/2020
Fighting the Coronavirus with Analytics and GIS
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/3/2020
IT Careers: 10 Job Skills in High Demand This Year
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  2/3/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll