This week we're seeing stories about fixed price contracts, for good and for ill.
- The CEO of L3 Harris took a hard stance against fixed price development contracts as an inappropriate contracting mechanism. His company has opted not to bid on such contracts, and he suggests others will also wait until a contract holds less risk of losing money in the face of inflation and other supply chain disruptions.
- Meanwhile the Space Force continues to use and applaud fixed price contracts for satellites and services, which have met goals for performance, cost, and schedule. The latest report on Space Force acquisition calls out the top and lowest performers.
The nominee for the next Joint Chief of Staff, CQ Brown, included in recent statements support for predictive maintenance and multiyear contracts, both of which provide a stronger demand signal to industry.
Our top story reports the early success of a commercial marketplace for satellite and space capabilities operated by the new Commercial Space Office in Space Systems Command. It's notable that this configuration allows DoD to acquire commercial capabilities in days, and reminds us of the Section 809 Panel's recommendation for an online marketplace for goods and services that provide just this kind of speed and transparency. We're also curious how similar this marketplace (and others predicted for the future) will look to the consortia model.
The US and the UK brokered a deal yesterday on trade pertinent to national security and defense, particularly critical minerals. Termed the Atlantic Declaration, it will ease some of the trade burdens that have resulted from the Inflation Reduction Act and put the two nations on collaborative footing economically.
In Congress, there's disagreement about whether or not to plus up the defense budget with a supplement now that a debt ceiling deal has been reached. This discord is even playing out among GOP members. Stand by for more drama about toplines and "efficiencies" as we head into summer appropriations season.
We continue sharing resources from the symposium -- this time the collected research papers and presentations from one of several panels on digital engineering. This panel was not recorded, but the papers and presentations are housed in our Defense Acquisition & Innovation Repository alongside more than 3,000 other papers from 20 years of symposia, NPS student theses, and other research documents.
This Week's Top Story
Space Force marketplace links commanders to commercial tracking data
Courtney Albon, C4ISRNET
Within a few days of establishing a marketplace for commercial companies to provide surveillance and tracking data to military users, the Commercial Space Office received its first tasking from U.S. Africa Command.
The U.S. Embassy in Guinea contacted the combatant command in late May to help identify the origin of a chemical spill that was impacting its fishing industry. AFRICOM reached out to the office, which then turned to its pool of commercial surveillance, reconnaissance and tracking companies who used data garnered from satellites to identify the source.
“With commercial SRT data, we actually [narrowed] down that culprit from 350 ships down to five,” Col. Richard Kniseley said. “And we think we’ve already found out who that culprit was.”
Kniseley is the senior materiel leader for commercial space within the U.S. Space Force’s acquisition hub, Space Systems Command. He leads the nascent Commercial Space Office, which it established in April to bring together a number of the service’s initiatives aimed at partnering with companies and helping military users better leverage commercial space capabilities.
During a June 6 briefing at the opening of his office’s new Chantilly, Virginia, headquarters — dubbed the Commercial Space Marketplace for Innovation and Collaboration — Kniseley told reporters he wants to expand the marketplace concept that allowed his team to quickly respond to Africa Command’s tasking to other mission areas.