Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2018 Contents underway before I got here, and it’s a fast-moving train, so it’s
critical to put that first, to prioritize that, and to make sure that
we have the best acquisition system for the Army.
Heininger: What comes next on the list, in terms of priorities?
Ross: There are a few things that we are working on simultane-
ously, including three that are of interest to [Army Acquisition
Executive] Dr. [Bruce D.] Jette, that we’ve put a strong effort
into right out of the gate. One is developing an Army policy on
intellectual property [IP]. There’s a requirement from Congress
to develop a department-wide policy, so the Air Force and the
Nav y and OSD [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] are all
coordinating right now on what the policy would be.
We need a balanced approach, one that meets the needs of both
government and industry, because we can no longer expect
commercial industry, especially innovative, nontraditional com-
panies, to be responsive to our demand signal if their proprietary
data is at risk. And, because the government needs to be able to
exercise the option to have access to data it paid to develop.
We want to encourage the program managers to tailor their IP
needs and requests based on a variety of factors and consider-
ations—not only the unique characteristics of a weapon system,
but also things like what the commercial market bears and what
their product-support strategy is for that system. We want them
to consider IP much earlier in the process, and we want to pro-
mote upfront negotiations, to ensure that both parties are really
clear about what they need, what will be delivered, with what
markings, when and at what price. And we need to encourage
that conversation to happen early. Dr. Jette likes to say that
“contracts and lawyers keep friends friends.” So if you negotiate
everything in good faith up front, everyone’s on the same page,
and there’s going to a be a lot fewer disputes down the road.
The other thing we’re working on is teaming up with the DASA
for procurement, Mr. [Stuart A.] Hazlett, on services contract-
ing. There are many service contracting initiatives going on at
OSD and at the Army level, and there’s going to be some quick
wins. In addition to all that, he and I are looking at ways to do
deeper, more significant reforms to address some of the under-
lying issues and factors in the contracting of services. That is a
perfect example of the way I like to work and what this office
will be doing. There will always be an interest in immediate suc-
cesses, and lots of times when senior leaders identify a problem
they want a solution quickly, but sometimes you have to dedi-
cate some time to really move the needle.
You have to look at the system holistically and deeply, and you
need to assess what the underlying causal factors are and what
you can do to address those factors. Otherwise you’re just treat-
ing the symptom of the disease.
The third initiative is data-driven decision-making. Dr. Jette
is very interested in being able to make smart decisions at the
enterprise level, but finds we lack a lot of the data we need to do
that. The Department of Defense has a mountain of raw data.
But the ability to access it, analyze it and use it for decisions is
really limited. Today, if you want some information, if you want
to understand something to make a decision, you have to do
an old-fashioned data call. So Dr. Jette is very eager to develop
some kind of mechanism where he can have access to more data.
It’s data transparency, but more than that, it’s actually using the
information in a way that enables real decision-making. We’re
far behind commercial industry in this. The private sector is able
to use big data in a way that’s fascinating.
Heininger: That distinction between quick wins and real
change seems to be the great value of your office. You have the
luxury of time and a dedicated team to look deeply at the system,
whereas most acquisition professionals and practitioners have
their own goals and missions to meet on a daily basis, so they
don’t get around to deep change.
Ross: Exactly. Deep change is different than quick wins. They
are both worthy, complementary endeavors and can be done
simultaneously. Also, sometimes people want savings, and that
can be a very good reason to seek change, but it is not the only
reason. I would argue that sometimes the quick and easy solu-
tion that might save you some money doesn’t address the real
problem. So I commend the secretary for creating this position,
because at times like these, when a lot of change is needed and
we have a resource-constrained environment and a lot of evolv-
ing threats, I think it’s critical that you dedicate the resources to
having a person with a small staff whose job it is to look at the
system and the processes very carefully, to promote real change.
MS. CLAIRE HEININGER is the strategic communications lead
for the Army Rapid Capabilities Office and has written extensively
about Army acquisition topics. She holds a B.A . in American
studies from the University of Notre Dame and is a former politics
and government reporter for The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest
newspaper. She is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps.
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