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Fixing Acquisitions, The DIB: The Digital Transformation – Part 5

Bottom Line Up Front: The Defense Innovation Board, a panel of Silicon Valley bigwigs, delivered a set of recommendations to fix DoD acquisitions.

Where We Left Off

In yesterday’s discussion of acquisition boss Ellen Lord’s story of how she overhauled Department of Defense acquisition, we had seen how the Defense Innovation Board, a panel made up of Silicon Valley bigwigs, was commissioned by the 2018 Defense Budget to write recommendations on how to fix DoD contracting.

Holy Cow!

Yes. If you are in the Defense industry, your whole world is about to turn upside-down.

So What Did They Write?

In short: be more like Silicon Valley and the commercial tech world.

The Department of Defense is its own special place with decades’ worth of contracting and acquisitions rules, regulations, laws, policies, departments, administrators, and bureaucracy that does technology development in a very different way than the commercial world. The Defense Innovation Board (DIU)’s report, lays out the path to transform the Pentagon into Silicon Valley.

There were three main overall themes:

  1. You gotta go fast, fast, fast. As you remember, it takes 8 years on average to deliver anything.
  2. People need better training. The Pentagon needs to emphasize tech expertise like Silicon Valley.
  3. Software is a special animal. Procuring it requires different rules, different laws, and different administration.

Each of these points is broken down into many, many recommendations that you should really read for yourself because they are literally industry-redefining. If this is your line of business, read the doggone document!

A Few Highlights

Among the many, many recommendations the Defense Innovation made are:

  • Use “Other Transaction Authority” contracts to go around the preposterous acquisition framework.
  • Launch a government Cloud and put everything in it.
  • Own the Intellectual Property of the stuff you pay for.
  • Go from Waterfall to Agile.
  • No more Requirements. Use a checklist of desired top-level features instead.
  • Create a new “technical” military career, something like Warrant Officers or the Corps of Engineers.
  • Rewrite the acquisition laws from the ground up.
  • Create new legal appropriations category free of the old rules.
  • Rewrite the 5000 series acquisitions policies.
  • IT becomes a subscription model, rather than a one-time purchase.

We will cover all of these things in greater detail in the weeks and months to come. But for now, wow, just take that list in!

If you are in the Government contracting world, particularly the Department of Defense contracting world, that list should have knocked your socks off! The document, which you should read, turns the entire industry on its head.

It’s too much. They’re Not Going To Do It

They already did it. As I said in the first blog post in this series, the DoD contracting world as you knew it is dead.

Find out tomorrow!