Archive for the ‘Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition’ Category

Getting There Faster – Can Agile & DoD 5000 Co-Exist?

February 28, 2020

The purpose of this article is to begin a discussion about how the Federal Defense Acquisition Process can operate faster.  “It’s about showing successes, it’s about showing how we can go faster” General Murray, Commander of the Army Futures Command (AFC). AFC must generate and sustain momentum within the Army, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and with Congress. The only way to do this is by providing real results.  Secretary of the Army Mark Esper wants requirements determination to be on a 12-month timescale and to be fully informed by Soldier feedback

 

Credit Shutterstock Gorodenkoff

Credit Shutterstock Gorodenkoff

So modernization and fast modernization is the key to our survival – but from a practical point of view what does that really mean? We know already that the Army perspective developed over two years ago (2017/2018) established six priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires; Next Generation Combat Vehicles; Future Vertical Lift; The Network; Air & Missile Defense; and Soldier Lethality. We know the lexicon of the Army has now forever changed towards each of these six descriptors and a forcing function is underway to realign and describe current efforts in order to fit within one of these six “swim lanes” or program relevance seems at risk.  But how do we get there and get there faster?

Ok – AFC immediately established eight cross-functional teams to achieve the  modernization priorities: Air and Missile Defense (Fort Sill, Oklahoma); Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama); Future CCDC-Soldier-Center-678x381Vertical Lift (Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama); Long-Range Precision Fires (Fort Sill, Oklahoma); Network (Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland); Next Generation Combat Vehicle (Detroit Arsenal, Warren, Michigan); Soldier Lethality (Fort Benning, Georgia); and Synthetic Training Environment (Orlando, Florida).  So far so good right?

Maybe – enter stage left the DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02 policy that directs the Defense Acquisition System. This is an event based process where a defense program goes thru a series of processes, milestones and reviews from beginning to end. Each milestone is the culmination of a phase were it’s determined if a program will proceed

DoD 5000 Capability Requirements and Acquisition

DoD 5000 Capability Requirements and Acquisition

into the next phase. Department of Defense (DoD) programs typically follow the waterfall system development model and includes the following phases: Initiation, Planning, Procurement, System Development, System Implementation, Maintenance & Operations, and Closeout.  The DoD 5000 methodology is robust and thorough with a stated goal of ensuring the proper use and stewardship of taxpayer investment.  However, it is lengthy as I quickly review three of the big five developments from the 1970’s which continue to be the mainstay of the US Army today.M1 and M2

·         The M1 Abrams was designed during 1972 – 1975 with Prototypes were delivered in 1976 and Low initial rate production (LIRP) of the vehicle was approved on 7 May 1979.  M1 Abrams tank entered service in 1980. 8 year development.

·         The Bradley Fighting Vehicle stems from early specification from 1958 for an Infantry Fighting Vehicle – new specifications were written in 1965 MICV-70 program through 1968. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir0FAa8P2MU  The Pentagon Wars – 1998). In 1977, the MICV TABA-II was renamed the XM2. The XM2/3 passed the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council Milestone II review in 1979 and final approval for production came from the Secretary of Defense on 1 February 1980. Hard to say the true development timeline but likely 10 years.

I believe GEN Murray is acknowledging that these long development timeline are not acceptable in achieving our modernization goals. Further, I believe a quote from my professor at the Claremont Graduate University is spot on –  Peter Drucker observed, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker, Managing in Turbulent Times (New York: Harper Collins, 1980).

FCS ImageBefore we move forward, we should pull our DoD 5000 magnifying glass a little closer to a more recent failure to ensure we truly understand how the process failed us – most recently involving the Future Combat System (FCS) initiated in 2003 $14.92 billion contract to 2009.  FCS followed an adaptation of the DoD 5000 waterfall methodology in applying a spiral development approach where technologies, as they matured were meant to be spun out as interim capabilities.

“Case in point, the Army invested $18 billion of taxpayer money into Future Combat Systems, or FCS. The failed modernization program never really had a chance. Its leap-ahead technological advancements were based on operational assumptions driven by embryonic technologies. Three-quarters of all technology needed to field FCS systems was considered early stage in nature. Prototypes and demonstrations were not scheduled until shortly before production was set to commence — four years and billions of dollars after research began. The science and technology community and their industry partners failed to work with Army operators until it was too late. Army leaders were so enamored with envisioned capabilities that they ignored operational realities” Lou DiStasi Associate Director, Navigant

FCS-timeline-large

Source: US Army FCS

 

So why didn’t FCS work – what was it about the development process that caused failure? Was DoD 5000 the cause or a spiral development approach?  Again I think Mr DiStasi is correct in stating that the reason for the “Big Five” success from the 1970’s tracks back to “prototyping and experimentation” occurring early and often between industry and operators.Yes I said operators – those end users on the ground that receive the output of the development. Successes and lessons learned from each incremental demonstration provided not only technological know-how but also operational awareness. Operators get to say whether the technology or innovation worked and more important answer the question “so what?”  Does the incremental demonstration result in a product that at least is a minimal viable product?  Is it demonstrable and ship-able?  Does it add value from the end user (customer’s) point of view?  This is not the labs view or the business development person view or the Program Manager’s view but in fact the end users view.  I agree with Mr. DiStasi that if this framework could have been followed then the FCS spiral development feedback from the user community could have helped refine the  requirements doctrine and process to support the procurement process.  That did not happen.

So where are we today in working to achieve faster innovation in order to create Army modernization across the six priorities and eight cross function teams and still comply with DoD policies and procedures and no I do not believe using Other Transaction Authority (OTA) processes is the answer.

AGILE

Yes – Agile – there I said it. After recently completing a course in Agile Transformation and “Scrum”  I am convinced that this framework will add tremendous value to both DoD Program Management Processes. As shown in this article our DoD reality is bound by limitations and expectations reflected through the DoD 5000 policies and guidance which have been put in place over the years for very good reasons. I am not advocating that the DoD 5000 be eliminated or that we attempt to bypass the structure. I am advocating that there are elements within the DoD 5000 that can be managed in an Agile framework which will result in reaching modernization goals faster.

Agile isn’t just for Information Technology or software development. According to my Agile mentor, Mr. Mark Layton, the principles behind this philosophy apply to any discipline that operates in conditions of complexity, uncertainty and change. Why?

What I have learned about the agile framework is the focus on what is called “Sprint why you should work in sprintsPlanning”  towards a “Release Product” of some measurable and meaningful feature. Where this differs from a spiral development currently in use throughout the DoD is the difference between a Waterfall and Agile approach. In the traditional DoD framework we focus on requirements up front when we know least about the need. Under Agile and Scrum we use “Sprints” to determine the requirement and change the requirement based on validation with the user of the current need.  This enables the requirements to change through the process reflecting the actual need so at the end of the process we don’t end up with a product that due to length of development no longer addresses the initial need which has evolved during the period of development.

In the traditional DoD 5000 hardware-centric illustration below you can see that we first begin to develop solutions based on a fixed requirement then work our way through engineering and manufacturing and Milestone C for low rate initial production and Test and Evaluation.  Agile would not advocate this timing but instead identify the most risky element of the development first.  If we are going to fail we want to fail early at the lowest cost which makes sense. Why – because early we have the most program budget remaining and longest run way ahead to refine and redevelop the elements of failure.  Our DoD 5000 process does not enable testing so early.

DoD 5000 Hardware (2)

Source: DoD 5000

How does Agile fit into the constraints experienced by DoD Program Managers?  First lets look again at the tradition water fall methodology. The first known presentation describing use of such phases (software) was by Herbert D. Benington at the Symposium on Advanced Programming Methods for Digital Computers on 29 June 1956 and then further defined by Winston W. Royce in 1970 – so we have a methodology that is dated.

Waterfall Methodologies

Source: Platinum Edge

First we decide on the requirements, then design and develop before we test. What seems to be missing is the interaction with the end user during this process to validate that the requirement is still valid and in the case of the DoD the “threat” has not evolved beyond the initial requirement. There is a real risk that at the end of the development process which may require years that the product is ineffective because it addresses a need that no longer exists.

Agile is different – its purpose driven development requiring design, develop, test towards a measurable release of a feature which the product owner (end user) can provide feedback about value. One of the teaching points during Agile training is related to estimating project costs. Under the Agile framework anyone who is telling us how much a project is going to cost before entering the testing phase is not providing accurate information. In fact a data point shared by the subject matter expert is that 30% of projects end because of time and cost over runs before test is even started.  Agile seeks to remove that risk by testing the most risky elements up front.

Agile Framework

Source: Platinum Edge

Agility is not a “thing” but a descriptor and requires retraining habits which we DoD Program Managers (PM) learned as successful under the more traditional waterfall management process which may be unhealthy in getting product (innovation / modernization) out the door faster.

To wrap up my advocacy for considering Agile as a “force multiplier” under the DoD 5000 process what does this mean from a PM Standpoint … Ability to do better estimation based on performance to completion because we can reduce risk in: whether the solution works, estimate true schedule, cost and continuously incorporate user feedback during the process – not just at the end.

Agile Iterations

 

For additional information on Agile and Scrum professional development and training please contact me at jdlong@silveroakleafinc.com or on the web at https://silveroakleafinc.com/   Jonathan Long is a previous US Army Assistant Product Manager and Department of the Army System Coordinator as well as a warranted contracting officer. He holds a MBA from the Claremont Graduate University and Defense Acquisition certifications in Program Management and Contracting Management and other acquisition related certifications.

What Exactly is the Berry Amendment?

August 26, 2019

Probably one of the most misunderstood two words associated with textiles and the world of Defense personal protection product development and sales. I can not count how many times I have heard the words “oh this doesn’t apply to the Berry Amendment” (well yes in fact a soft body armor vest does fall under the Berry Amendment law) or “oh yes this does meet the requirement for Berry compliance” (while I look at the manufacturing tag that says “Made in China”). So how about it – questions we are all too afraid to ask because we should know better – what exactly is and isn’t when it comes to the Berry Amendment?

fabric-rolls-idex

First of all instead of reading marketing literature or talking to well meaning sales and business development people (myself being one), lets go to the actual DPAP  (Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy) which is a program under the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD (A&S)). The Berry Amendment was originally passed by Congress in 1941 to promote the purchase of certain U.S. goods.  The amendment is codified at 10 U.S.C 2533a by section 832 of Public Law 107-107. What this really means in government contracting speak is that the Berry Amendment is required – its not recommended, its not suggested, its not “maybe we should” but its a law with consequences that can involve doors and windows with bars.

For more information on violations and what the Inspector General may have found in 2016 other services is true – potentially over $200 billion in lost manufacturing manufactured overseas instead of in the United States. The Honorable Frank Kendall then Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics at https://www.murphy.senate.gov/download/buy-american-letter.  Interesting reading but that was in 2016 and positive changes have been implemented – but back to Berry.

Here is what Berry means  “the law restricts any funding appropriated or otherwise available to DoD”  first and foremost this is a law which applies to the Department of Defense which means the DOJ, DHS or DOS are not required to comply with this law. They must comply with the Buy American Act (which is likely the second most misunderstood policy associated with personal protection products, uniforms and boots).

To continue “from being used to buy the following end items, components, or materials unless they are wholly of US origin:” so what this means regarding cotton

cotton-polymer-yarn-detail-v2

From polymer to finished product

or wool for instance is the ground that the item grows on, the people who harvest the fibers, the location where that item is processed and turned into a textile item or yarn, the location where that textile is turned into a non-woven, knit or woven material and then finished; the location and people who then cut and sew that end item into a finished good – all have to be American (which includes Puerto Rico).

The details “An article or item of food; clothing; tents, tarpaulins, or covers; cotton and other natural fiber products; woven silk or woven silk blends; spun silk yarn for cartridge cloth; synthetic fabric or coated synthetic fabric (including all textile fibers and yarns that are for use in such fabrics); canvas products, or wool (whether in the form of fiber or yarn or contained in fabrics, materials, or manufactured articles); or any item of individual equipment (Federal Supply Class 8465) manufactured from or containing such fibers, yarns, fabrics, or materials; and hand or measuring tools.”  Whew that is saying a lot.

What this really means is you can’t buy boots from China and change the tags to say JAIL CELL“Made in America” because jail time may be included. For more examples of “can this be really true” see “chief executive officer of Wellco Enterprises, Inc. and its corporate parent Tactical Holdings Operations, Inc., sentenced 41 months in federal prison for defrauding the government”  or review the investigation of Dunlap zippers incorporating a slider — the small tab and attachment that is pulled up and down to open and close a zipper — made in Asia that had very negative consequences.

 

So its clear that textile base materials that go into clothing and gear (including ballistics, armor and body armor) must be manufactured in the USA.  But what about items that are procured for other partner countries through a FMS process? Do these still have to comply with the Berry Amendment? Yes. FMS funding and other Federal agencies’ funding is being made available to DoD and therefore falls under the Berry Amendment. 4C8A6E1B-14E3-4BCB-ADE1-61744D3643B4And in fact if the DoD provides funding to another agency to buy items, the Berry Amendment applies.

Almost last – often heard in the industry is “oh the Berry Amendment doesn’t apply because the purchase is under SAT.” So lets look at that because this is actually true. The Berry Amendment does not apply if the Government prime contract is below the SAT.   In order to understand what that is we need to go to 2 CFR § 200.88 – Simplified Acquisition threshold.  What SAT is the dollar amount below which organizations may make purchases using small purchase methods. Federal simplified acquisition threshold (formerly known as the federal small purchase threshold) -increased from $150,000 to $250,000. http://acqnotes.com/acqnote/careerfields/simplified-acquisition-procedures-sap   So if your program or purchase is under $250,000 your policy moves from Berry Amendment to Buy American Act for compliance. 

Last – “we have a DNAD so berry doesn’t apply.” Well maybe – a Domestic Non-Availability Determination (DNAD)) is a waiver to the Berry Amendment and can be granted if the Secretary concerned determines that “items grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States cannot be acquired as and when needed in a satisfactory quality and sufficient quantity at U.S. market prices.”  This is not an easy piece of paper to get because the signatures are from one of these four – the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy or the Secretary of the Air Force – but good luck with that!

Simplified-Threshold-Amounts-2018-v2

 

US Defense Bill to Supports Made in USA

February 9, 2017

Fabric rolls IDEX.jpgFrom the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO),which represents domestic textile manufacturers, the Senate’s 92-7 vote to pass Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) according to NCTO President & CEO Auggie Tantillo is “a good bill.”  Tantillo says of the bill “It supports American troops, strengthens our national security, and includes many provisions important to the US textile industry.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) sourced roughly $1.5 billion (USD) in textiles and clothing in 2016. Textiles fall under the buy-American procurement provision known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a) requires the Department of Defense to buy textiles and clothing made with 100% United States content and labor.

berry-amendment-berry-compliant-bootsThe FY 2017 NDAA conference report reflects several other positive outcomes for the US based textiles industry. (1) no increase to the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT). Procurements in excess of the SAT require compliance with the Berry Amendment. The SAT level is $ 150,000. If the SAT threshold were increased, contracts might be awarded to international bidders and a lose for US industry. (2) the athletic footwear voucher program that has been in place for decades ended. Now the works begins to ensure all athletic footwear purchased by DoD is Berry-compliant. (3) DoD and the State Department procurement officials have been directed to provide key congressional defense and foreign relations committees updates on how each department is making efforts to ensure US manufacturers are aware of procurement opportunities relating equipping foreign security forces. Information source: http://www.ncto.org

For the complete details please visit http://www.innovationintextiles.com/industry-talk/new-us-defence-bill-to-support-made-in-usa-products/utm_content=47764882&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin#sthash.8yKW5WZO.dpuf

What . . . Army Staff Identification Badge ?

February 2, 2017

What exactly is that green looking badge worn by many working in the Pentagon? The badge is called Army Staff Identification Badge (ASIB) and awarded to those who are assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Army and the Army Staff at Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA).headquarters_us_army_ssi

While technically neither an award nor a decoration, the badge is a distinguishing emblem of service (although each person must prepare a recommendation for award of the badge and it is reflected in one’s official file).

Each staff member is issued the ASIB temporarily, once a member has demonstrated outstanding performance of duty and meeting all eligibility requirements the badge can be awarded permanent after one complete year (365 days cumulative) and receive a certificate authorizing permanent wear of the badge.

As background, General Douglas MacArthur proposed an Army General Staff Badge in 1931, but it was not until 1933 that the United States War Department authorized it. The badge has remained unchanged in appearance since it was first created, however, the name was changed in 1982 from the Army General Staff Identification Badge to the Army Staff Identification Badge..

cstc-afghanistan-patchOn the United States Army uniform, the Army Staff Identification Badge is worn centered on the right breast pocket. However, since the uniform regulations have changed to allow the wear of a “combat patch” on the Class A uniform the ALARACT 203/2010 wear guidance also says the ASIB is worn on the left breast pocket when worn in conjunction with a CSIB (Combat Service Identification Badge) more commonly known as a combat patch.

For example, one of my personal patches from 2008 and 2009 is the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) is shown. CSTC-A located in Kabul Afghanistan was formed out of the Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan and is in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

You know that Picatinny helmet rail?

August 9, 2016
ACH w NVG Mount
Army Combat Helmet (ACH)

 

I am working on a project that includes mounting a new piece of video kit on the Army Combat Helmet (ACH). While looking at one of my developmental helmets from 2005 shook my head a bit and considered all that is old comes back around.  This time the subject is the Picatinny rail.  When the ACH was introduced into the US Army inventory after some modification of the “Mitch Helmet” used in the previous years by US Army Special Forces, the basic version included just the Night Vision Goggle (NVG) mount. THe ACH as first fielded is a far cry from the helmets worn in combat today.

Rail pic b

At the time. the US Army program office for Soldier Clothing and Individual equipment located at Ft Belvoir, VA was looking at each piece of Soldier gear and considering how we could make it better, lighter, or more durable.  Soldiers were being asked to carry numerous new pieces of gear that needed batteries, antennas, lights and so forth.  Operating these new devices “hands free” would be a bonus – especially when you already had your hands full! I talked this challenge over with one of the ACH producers Mine Safety Appliances Co (MSA) and Russ Suchy – he came back to me with a prototype rail system shown below for the ACH.  I don’t know how long this development had been in the works before I diagramed out a pencil drawing of the ACH showing where I thought a rail could be applied. My point was the attachment mechanism for the rail use had to use the pre-existing mounting hard wear and holes. More holes in the helmet = bad.

ACH w Pict Rail v2

Informal internet research finds that the rail itself may stem from work by the “A.R.M.S. company in the early 1980s and Otto Repa in standardizing the Weaver design,” but I cant provide the exact references.  I did review the Mil-STD-1913, dated February 3, 1995 document and can see that at least as far back as 1995 rail capability was known to the US Army.  Interestingly this MIL Standard was focused on small arms.  Picatinny was the supervising office.

Picatinny Arsenal’s role in naming the rail during test and evaluation which created the military standard could be as simple as the official documentation. The MIL STD as recorded on the lowly DD-Form 1426; dated 1989 was overseen by Picatinny. Who knew that the rail would grow to such popularity in use?  Now days on most any special forces blog site you can see variations of how the Picatinny rail has been adopted for helmet mounts.

Rail pic a

MSA’s role changed when Revision Military announced in June 2012 the purchase of MSA’s North American ballistic helmet business. The purchase included the acquisition of MSA’s U.S.-based helmet manufacturing equipment and operations located in Newport, Vermont.

Regardless of whether its MSA, Revision, Gentex, Crye, or a host of other excellent combat producers, the fact that the Picatinny rail seems to be here to stay is without question.  Just look at the variations in helmet mounts (and not even mentioning weapon and hand guard rails!) and you can see that the creative adaptation has not stopped!

Rail pic c

 

Memorial Ceremony for Major General Harold J. Greene, 13 August 2014

August 13, 2014

Reflections and images from today’s memorial service for Major General Greene. While the senior speakers Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff ofthe Army and others were eloquently sincere and expressed fine and endearing remarks about the life and profession of MG Greene, I would like to honor Harry Greene by relaying what I saw there in the auditorium attended by more than 300 people. A dark sober stage framed by dark blue curtains and empty except the podium composed of a single focal point of the soldier’s helmet capping an upturned rifle pointed downwards. A set of identification tags hangs loose above an empty set of tan combat boots. To the right in the place of honor is the flag of the United States of America and to the left – the flag of the US Army with all 183 battle streamers and immediately below a rolled general officer’s black leather belt with gold buckle (note left and right from the podiums view). The podium is covered with the bright red of a general officers flag and the brilliant white of the two stars signifying a Major General. MG Greene’s framed photograph rests alone upon this podium.

I think commemorative words are often lost on attendees but the images, music and ceremony of paying respect and saying goodbye always remains. Following commemorative remarks praising the general and recognizing his many significant contributions to the US Army, our nation, and his role as Deputy Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan; the Pentagon Choir offered special music “You raise Me Up.” Pentagon Chaplain, COL Rutherford followed the special music with the benediction. The Chaplains’ remarks were brief and focused that “we come here today out of gratitude” and provided solace that “the just man who dies early will be at rest.” Following the benediction, the Command Sergeant Major approached the podium, turned and called out roll call. The first two names called were answered immediately from within the auditorium as “here!’ However, when the Command Sergeant Major called out for “Major General Greene,” only silence was heard. The Command Sergeant Major called again for “Major General Harold Greene,” and again only silence. The Command Sergeant Major called a third time for “Major General Harold Joseph Greene,” and was met with only silence for a last time. He then solemnly turned and slowly saluted. It was at this point with memorial ceremony almost complete that the lone bugler came onto stage out of the dark and rendered taps.

Taps in the auditorium was eerily beautiful within such a totally quite place and had a slight echo within the walls. As taps played, one could only focus on the source of light: the helmet, upturned rifle and empty boots that dominated the hall. The last image I can offer is that of the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army approaching the podium and rendering their slow and solemn final salutes of farewell. The family of MG Greene, senior Army and Acquisition leaders and all other friends, associates and colleague then filed by and offered their own solemn gestures of farewell. Some slowly saluted, MG Greene’s son and daughter each raised their hand and touched the two stars on his combat helmet, and others made other small gestures of respect and farewell. As each of the more than 300 persons attending made their way past the podium, the memorial service came to a solemn end.

 

Funeral Service for MG Harold J. Greene

August 13, 2014

arlington cemetery

Funeral Service for Major General Harold J. Greene, Former Deputy Commanding General, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, will be held on Thursday, 14 August 2014, at 1500 hours at Memorial Chapel, Fort Myer, Virginia.  Interment with Full Military Honors to follow at Arlington National Cemetery.  

A valid government identification is required to gain access to Fort Myer. Recommend attendees allow extra time for processing through security if you decide to drive directly to Fort Myer.  Military Police will be on hand to assist.

The Uniform is Service Dress with Service Cap and Civilian Informal.

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Plan-Your-Visit/Getting-Here/Directions