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The Acquisition Research Program publishes a weekly email newsletter, Need to Knowin which we highlight key developments in acquisition, policy, government innovation, and research—as well as the latest news about ARP events and research. We hope you enjoy the newsletter, and let us know if you are doing work we can highlight in future issues. 

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Newsletter 6.5.2020

June 5, 2020

ARP Research: Symposium Spotlight

Panel #2: Ship Building Acquisition and Sustainment

Technology Insertion OODA Loop Strategy for future Flexible Surface Warship Acquisition and Sustainment
Michael Good (DELTA Resources, Inc), Glen Sturtevant (PEO Ships)

  • Micro-abstract: In the same way that Colonel John Boyd, USAF, developed and applied the concept of an OODA Loop (a decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act) to combat operations, a construct for a Navy Warship Acquisition OODA Loop can provide a model of individual and organizational learning and adaptation.  Read the paper.  

Decisions Made During Acquisition Have Lasting Effects on Navy Ship Sustainment
Diana Moldafsky (GAO), Larri Fish (Government Accountability Office)

  • Micro-abstract:  The GAO found that shipbuilding programs’ requirements for sustainment reflect weaknesses with how DoD policy defines these requirements for ships. Sustainment requirements should influence acquisition decisions that determine the sustainability of a ship class, such as the ship’s design.  Read the paper and presentation.

Design for Sustainment: Governance Engineering in Major Acquisition Programs​
William Baker (U.S. Navy), Lucas Marino (AECOM), Joseph Bradley (Patrona Corporation), Kaitlynn Castelle (Patrona Corporation)

  • Micro-abstract: We report on the efforts to use agile development to develop a pilot sustainment system to provide integrated logistics support to the future fleet. Read the paper.         

See more research in the full Proceedings of the 17th Annual Acquisition Research Symposium.


This Week’s Top Story

Here’s the newest price tag for DoD’s arsenal of equipment
Aaron Mehta, Defense News

The Defense Department’s portfolio of 121 key defense acquisition programs now has a price tag of $1.86 trillion, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

The number comes from the GAO’s annual assessment of Pentagon acquisition, delivered to the public on Wednesday. The figure involves a 4 percent increase over the previous year but also factors in, for the first time, 15 major IT investments ($15.1 billion) and 13 middle-tier acquisition programs ($19.5 billion).

The vast majority comes from 93 major defense acquisition programs, or MDAP, worth $1.82 trillion. Of those, 85 MDAPs worth a total of $1.8 trillion are already underway, with the rest expected to enter production in the near future. The $1.8 trillion figure marks the largest level of investment in MDAPs since 2011, and an increase of $44 billion over the department’s 2018 MDAP portfolio.

The current MDAP portfolio has accumulated more than $628 billion in cost growth over the life of its programs — or 54 percent more than the projected cost when programs began — with schedule growth overshooting targets by 29 percent at an average capability delivery delay of more than two years.

Read more.


Acquisition and Innovation

SOCOM Looking To Bake In AI Requirements On Every New Program
Paul McLeary, Breaking Defense

Federal procurement spending up $120B since 2015
Jason Miller, Federal News Network

The Navy has 10 new information warfare projects
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISR Net

Shipbuilding suppliers need more than market forces to stay afloat
Bryan Clark and Timothy A. Walton, Defense News

Air Force could dole out nearly $27 billion in first round of ABMS contracts
Nathan Strout, C4ISR Net

SOCOM Multi-Mission Plane Competition Heats Up
Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense

Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Supplement (NMCARS) Challenge
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Procurement)

Automation is advancing in federal acquisition
Mark Rockwell, FCW


Events (Upcoming and Recent Recordings)

Agility Prime: Collaborative Research and Development
June 10, 2020, 1:00-2:30 EDT

Hacking for Defense® Educators Course (Virtual)
First online session: June 17, 2020

How to Engage with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Research Ecosystem
June 19, 2020

Dcode Virtual: Navy Assistant Secretary James “Hondo” Geurts
Recorded May 14, 2020


Research and Higher Education

Benchmarking Data Use and Analytics in Large, Complex Private-Sector Organizations: Implications for Department of Defense Acquisition
Jeffrey A. Drezner, Jon Schmid, Justin Grana, Megan McKernan, Mark Ashby (RAND Corporation)

The Call for Decision Science: Why All Sailors and Marines Should Care
David Laszcz, Real Clear Defense

Students Across Navy’s Educational Enterprise Exchange Big Ideas
MC2 Nathan K. Serpico, Naval Postgraduate School

Military service academies plan for students’ return in fall
Brian Witte, The Associated Press

Joint Chiefs Vision Changes Military Education Philosophy
Department of Defense Press Release


Defense and Federal Government

Historic nomination of first black service chief to move forward after lawmaker lifts secret hold
Joe Gould, Valerie Insinna, and Leo Shane III; Defense News

Watch: General Brown remarks (Twitter video)

CNO Message to Sailors (video)

In his fight to change the Corps, America’s top Marine takes friendly fire
David B. Larter, Defense News

US joins G7 artificial intelligence group to counter China
Matt O'Brien, The Associated Press

China’s missile and space tech is creating a defensive bubble difficult to penetrate
Mike Yeo, Defense News

Costs of Creating a Space National Guard
Congressional Budget Office

Interim director takes over Joint Artificial Intelligence Center
Nathan Strout, C4ISR Net

Pentagon names seven new bases for 5G test beds
Andrew Eversden, C4ISR Net


COVID-19 and Contracting

DOD Announces Two Defense Production Act Title 3 COVID-19 Projects to Support the Space Defense Industrial Base: $12.45 Million Investment to Improve Domestic Semiconductor Production and $6 Million to Expand Domestic Production of Satellite Solar Array Panels
U.S. Department of Defense Press Release

Pentagon taps $688 million in coronavirus aid for defense industry
Joe Gould, Defense News

Special Report on Best Practices and Lessons Learned for DoD Contracting Officials in the Pandemic Environment (DODIG-2020-085)
Department of Defense Office of Inspector General


Policy and Regulatory Update

Federal Acquisition Regulation: Policy on Joint Ventures
Federal Register

Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Repeal of Annual Reporting Requirements to Congressional Defense Committees (DFARS Case 2020-D004)
Federal Register



Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry Announce Markup Schedule for Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act
House Armed Services Committee

Inhofe, Reed Announce FY 2021 NDAA Markup Schedule
Senate Committee on Armed Services

Support Swells For New Indo-Pacom Funding; Will Money Follow
Paul McLeary, Breaking Defense

Would the White House consider a national cyber director?
Andrew Eversden, Fifth Domain

Lawmakers want must-pass defense bill to protect protesters from the military
Joe Gould, Defense News

AFGE urges Congress to back labor priorities in defense bill
Lia Russell, FCW

Navy Lacks ‘Clear Theory of Victory’ Needed to Build New Fleet, Experts Tell House Panel
Sam LaGrone, USNI News



Newsletter 5.29.2020

May 29, 2020

Noteworthy in Issue #10: The next round of papers from our research symposium turns attention to the art of contract management from three perspectives. In the news: SASC leaders want DoD to try a new way to budget and manage capabilities in the Indo-Pacific theater; acquiring AI continues to present challenges; and China-U.S. relations take a policy turn. As always, keep letting us know if you have work we can highlight in future issues. 

ARP Research: Symposium Spotlight

Panel #20: Contemporary Challenges in Contract Management

Non-Competitive Contracting: Lessons from Contracting Personnel
Latika Hartmann (Naval Postgraduate School), Josh Cissell (Contract Manager, F-22 Modernization/F-119 Sustainment), Rene Rendon (Naval Postgraduate School)

  • Micro-abstract: We survey a small group of Air Force contracting personnel to understand their views on contracting in sole-source environments. Our findings suggest Air Force contracting personnel in this setting know that sellers in noncompetitive relationships have more leverage and power than the buyer.
  • Read the paper and presentation.  

Evaluating the Impact of Contracting “Tripwires” on Service Acquisitions
William Lucyshyn (Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise), Samuel Quist (University of Maryland)

  • Micro-abstract: The report evaluates how tripwire implementation, on the whole and in specific instances, has impacted acquisition outcomes and examines the empirical basis for specific tripwire thresholds and their approval authorities.
  • Read the paper.

A Rendezvous with Discretion: An Analysis of Federal Simplified Acquisition Procedure Contracts
Benjamin Brunjes (University of Washington)

  • Micro-abstract: This paper assesses how federal contracting officials use discretion afforded via simplified acquisition procedures (SAP) to influence equity and performance.
  • Read the paper.        

See more research in the full Proceedings of the 17th Annual Acquisition Research Symposium:!/page/148


This Week’s Top Story

The Pacific Deterrence Initiative: Peace Through Strength in the Indo-Pacific
Sen. Jim Inhofe and Sen. Jack Reed

The best way to protect U.S. security and prosperity in Asia is to maintain a credible balance of military power. But America’s ability to do so is at risk. And it’s not just U.S. interests at stake. Allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific are watching closely, and wondering whether they will be able to count on America.

With the stakes so high, the time for action is now. That’s why this year we intend to establish a Pacific Deterrence Initiative in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative will enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, and focus resources on key military capabilities to deter China. The initiative will also reassure U.S. allies and partners, and send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that the American people are committed to defending U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific.

What the Pacific Deterrence Initiative Will Do

The Pentagon is taking challenges in the Indo-Pacific seriously, and has made some important progress implementing the National Defense Strategy in the region. That’s especially true when it comes to rebuilding readiness and investing in modernization. Unfortunately, the progress to date has been insufficient to achieve the “urgent change at significant scale” that is required. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative will improve the implementation of the National Defense Strategy in the Indo-Pacific, and incentivize the Pentagon to better prioritize the region in its annual budget process.

First, the Pacific Deterrence Initiative will enhance budgetary transparency and congressional oversight. The National Defense Strategy refocused the Pentagon on strategic competition with China and Russia, elevating the priority of the Indo-Pacific and European theaters. But while translating regional priorities into budget priorities is a critical aspect of implementing the National Defense Strategy, it’s also a major challenge for the current Pentagon budget process.

The United States needs to shift the balance from the current focus on platforms and programs toward the specific missions its warfighters may be called upon to perform. A mission-oriented approach will bring more attention to the joint and enabling capabilities that are essential to their success.

Read more.


Acquisition and Innovation

The Pentagon’s artificial intelligence hub wants unilateral acquisition power
Andrew Eversden, C4ISR Net

Army seeking technologies that will better ‘harness’ its data
Jackson Barnett, FedScoop

Space Acquisition: Speed May Not Fix Problems, Critics Say
Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense

F-35 Costs Drop for Building Jets But Rise for Operating Them
Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg

DoD moves AI development to Air Force’s Cloud One as JEDI protest drags on
Jared Serbu and Scott Maucione, Federal News Network

CMMC looks to clear up questions about cybersecurity assessors
Jackson Barnett, FedScoop

A Snapshot of Government-wide Contracting for FY 2019 (infographic)
U. S. Government Accountability Office


Events (Upcoming and Recent)

Government Contract Pricing Summit
Hosted by ProPricing. June 24-25, 2020.

Challenges to the Industrial Base during Covid-19
Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Recorded May 28, 2020.

AI, Defense, and Intelligence: A Conversation with JAIC Director Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan
Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Recorded May 29, 2020.


Research and Higher Education

10 Predictions for Higher Education’s Future
John Kroger, Inside Higher Ed

2020 Annual Report: Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Billions in Financial Benefits
U.S. Government Accountability Office

Prioritizing Weapon System Cybersecurity in a Post-Pandemic Defense Department
Morgan Dwyer, Center for Strategic and International Studies


Defense and Federal Government

Focus on US as main opponent, says China military strategist
Matt Ho, South China Morning Post

Here’s the Pentagon’s plan to help the US stay ahead on 5G
Jackson Barnett, FedScoop

New Cyber Office Will Unify NAVSEA’s Digital Efforts
Megan Eckstein, USNI News

Will defense budgets remain ‘sticky’ after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Eric Lofgren, Defense News

Marine Corps to Shut Down, Cut Back 7 MOSs as the Force Prepares for Change
Gina Harkins,

Here’s Big Navy’s COVID-19 deployment guidance
Geoff Ziezulewicz, Navy Times


COVID-19 and Contracting

Did acquisition restrictions exacerbate PPE supply challenges?
Mike Hettinger and Richard Beutel

Some major Army programs slip due to coronavirus effect
Scott Maucione, Federal News Network

The Pentagon has spent 23% of its COVID-19 response funds. Congress is asking why not more.
Joe Gould, Defense News



United States Strategic Approach to The People’s Republic of China
Office of the President of the United States



Senate’s NDAA markup is two weeks away. How will the pandemic change things?
Joe Gould, Defense News

Inhofe, Reed back new military fund to confront China
Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta, Defense News

HASC leadership outlines ‘concerns’ over Ligado in new letter
Aaron Mehta and Mike Gruss, C4ISR Net


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