DOD bill could revamp acquisition process

The legislation requires the Defense Department to build an agile, speedy acquisition process for IT

The Defense Department is going buy information technology systems differently, based on the final version of the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

In a conference report that reconciles the versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate, Congress said it wants DOD’s buying process to:

  • Involve the user of the new system early on and throughout the acquisition process.
  • Work in multiple, rapidly executed increments for developing a system's capabilities.
  • Take an evolutionary method of buying IT by using early and successive prototyping of the system.
  • Conduct a modular, open-system approach to development.

The process to be developed should be based on the recommendations from the Defense Science Board Task Force on Department of Defense Policies and Procedures for the Acquisition of Information Technology, the report states.

The task force concluded in a report issued in March that the new acquisition process must be agile and capable of delivering IT systems in no more than 18 months. Currently though, it takes much longer. In an analysis of 32 major automated information systems, DOD calculated it took more than seven years on average to get the systems running.

“Without an acquisition process that accommodates — and takes advantage of — IT’s rapid pace of change, future DOD acquisition officials will likely be frustrated in their efforts to equip the nation’s warfighters and weapon systems with the needed information technologies,” the task force wrote.

The task force also presented four areas in need of change, if DOD wants to buy its IT faster. It noted the most important reform is getting qualified people in charge.

The House and Senate must still pass the defense authorization act's conference report before the legislation can go to the president for his signature.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Tue, Oct 13, 2009 Clem Munno

You have not begun to see the level of unethical conduct and graft that this will bring without stringent controls. The most important control is that any technical or contracting Government employee who participate in one of these procurements must be barred for life from employment with the prime or subcontractors who perform. This type of approach undermines arms length transactions.

Fri, Oct 9, 2009 John Weiler Alexandria VA

As efforts to implement the Clinger Cohen Act failed in pentagon, I suspect this will to unless congress can establish an FFRDC like IT Honest Broken and make sure it does not get undermined by the many rice bowls and special interests. Having run such an organization for over 10 years (, I cannot tell you how Machiavellian I have become. I take issue with the concept of asking OSD to create a new process, as they will only make small revisions to the old one. Congress needs some new kind of thinking not tied to the status quo. The rapid acquisition process that Clinger Cohen Act sought to legislate has been already created, and its called the Acquisition Assurance Method (AAM), enhanced in partnership with SAF and BTA (ASAP and CAM). To drive this kind of change, Congress and OSD much change the incentive, and establish real measures of effectiveness (MOEs) for PMs and service level agreements (SLAs) for their contractors. As Eistein would have said "you can't fix today's problems with the same kind of thinking that got you there in the first place. What incentive do our traditional FFRDCs and SIs have to fix this problem. Answer; NONE.

Fri, Oct 9, 2009 Peter G. Tuttle, CPCM

Looks strangely like some of the language we saw in the Clinger-Cohen Act of days gone by. Hopefully, the execution will keep pace with this "new" policy direction.

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