Old Newsletters - 2021

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Looking for older newsletters?  Need to Know launched in March 2020. All issues are archived with the NPS library in a special collection.


November 12, 2021                                                          Issue 78


This week brought two big events: yesterday's webinar on acquiring emerging technologies hosted by your very own ARP, and the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army. Speakers at both events talked about the need to design with modular open systems architecture, whether to enable the adoption of new technologies or to improve affordability and readiness. This shift to designing open architectures is, of course, happening across the services. (As VADM Lewis explained in the webinar, the Navy's aircraft carriers have exemplified MOSA for decades.) Unique to AUSA, however, was a demonstration of "robot dogs" outfitted with guns--one of the creepier demonstrations of integrated old and new technologies that I have personally seen.

The Secretary of the Navy released his strategic guidance, and we note that he mentions the goal of making "targeted investments in key emerging technologies" in multiple domains. He also identifies the importance of Naval education, to include NPS, in developing leaders "with the warfighting rigor, intellectual dynamism, and innovative creativity to maintain strategic advantage against competitors and global adversaries." As Chris Manuel discussed at the webinar, NPS is playing a critical role in developing these leaders, using innovative approaches to talent management that are enabled by new technology. And the fact that three of our four panelists are alumni of NPS speaks to the enduring impact of the study and research required to receive an advanced degree in defense education.

For the third week in a row, we are learning more about the next step in the career of the innovative Hondo Geurts, former Navy acquisition chief. He will be driving a new effort to connect industry and the national security enterprise.

For those who have been anxiously awaiting the call for proposals for next year's symposium, it's finally here! We can't wait to see the many, many smart ideas you'll submit. 

There are more stories in the newsletter, but don't miss the good news at the end: yesterday President Biden signed the bill to raise the debt ceiling ... for two months.

If you're new to the newsletter, welcome aboard! 

This Week's Top Story 

Plug and Play: How Flexibility and Openness are Key to Acquiring Emerging Technologies

On October 14, experts from the Naval Postgraduate School and the defense innovation community shared their perspectives on what it takes for the Department of Defense to acquire emerging technologies.

One of the key takeaways was the importance of modular open systems architecture (MOSA), in which platforms or systems are designed separately from the technology, often software, that can operate on those platforms. Platforms take longer to develop and build, and they generally have a long service life. The technology that makes them lethal or gives them a competitive advantage, however, changes much more quickly.


Read more.



ARP and NPS News

Interagency “TEAMS” Effort to Tackle Federal Talent Management Challenges
Rebecca Hoag, Naval Postgraduate School

NPS Associate Dean of Research for Technology Development Chris Manuel is collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Harvard University to create and integrate a system-of-systems called the Talent Education and Assessment Management System (TEAMS), an effort of the National Artificial Intelligence Institute’s workforce development program. TEAMS will assess the current knowledge level of the workforce and provide meaningful feedback to leadership about the capabilities and gaps within their ranks. Read Full Story

Symposium Proposals Now Being Accepted

The Symposium Program Committee solicits proposals for papers or panels from academicians, practitioners, researchers at think tanks, and others interested in defense acquisition research.
Proposals are due by November 29, 2021.

Acquisition and Innovation

‘Affordable’ hypersonics, small business and sustainment lead DoD tech chief’s priorities
Joe Gould, Defense News

Kessel Run adds NATO as a user for refueling software
Jackson Barnett, Fedscoop

DoD Announces $14 Million in Defense Production Act Title III Agreements to Strengthen the Domestic Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Industrial Base
DoD Press Release

Former Navy Official James ‘Hondo’ Geurts Joins BENS As Distinguished Fellow
BENS Press Release

Contract Line Items: An introduction to the concepts, rules, and principles of contract line items and line item structuring
Vernon Edwards, Briefing Papers



Breakthrough innovations and where to find them
Giovanna Capponi, Arianna Martinelli, Alessandro Nuvolari  |  Research Policy

Higher Education

Naval Community College prepares for second influx of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen
Diana Stancy Correll, Navy Times


National Strategic Overview for Research and Development Infrastructure
National Science and Technology Council

One Navy-Marine Corps Team: Strategic Guidance from the Secretary of the Navy
Carlos Del Toro, 78th Secretary of the Navy

Defense and Federal Government

Here’s how Army aviation is tackling the open architecture challenge
Jen Judson, Defense News

‘No way around it’: Facing budget cuts, Army braces to fight for modernization
Jen Judson, Defense News

Katie Arrington sues DOD and NSA over five-month suspension
John Hewitt Jones, Fedscoop

Pentagon’s arms sales chief retires as Biden administration faces decisions on transfer policy
Joe Gould, Defense News

Commentary: How China Is Planning For a Tech Decoupling
Alex Stone and Peter W. Singer, Defense One


Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling
Brett Samuels, The Hill

October 8, 2021                                                                              Issue 73

This week brings a lot of new research and policy. The DOD IG released a report on Middle Tier Acquisition authorities, looking at 11 of the 69 programs currently using MTA for either rapid prototyping or rapid fielding. They found that MTA is being used effectively to streamline acquisitions, involve users in development, and maintain sufficient oversight. In other research on rapid acquisition, we include a review of James Hasik’s new book-length case study of MRAP acquisition. Two new bits of policy out this week: the DoD’s climate adaptation plan and the State Department’s geospatial data strategy.

In acquisition news and events, we’re hearing more from current or prospective leaders. Our top story highlights the Navy’s acquisition priorities, which include sustainment, digital designs for shipyards, and consolidating business systems. Prospective Air Force acquisition lead Andrew Hunter testified with the SASC this week, talking F-35 costs, IT modernization, and more. The Supreme Court refused to weigh in on Oracle’s legal complaint on JEDI, and Oracle still isn’t happy about how DoD is evaluating their cloud capabilities. 

You probably already know this, but here's more good news: the Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling yesterday. The House is scheduled to take up the vote on Tuesday. 

And in ARP news: if you’ve been looking for material from this year’s symposium, navigate over to the Proceedings page, where you’ll find papers, presentations, and some videos of individual speakers. (Your humble editor has posted a few videos of full panel discussions on YouTube, but it has been slow going.)  

Finally, next week is our webinar on Acquiring Emerging Technologies. We’ve got a great lineup for you, connecting research with real-world challenges and successes ranging from how to identify worthwhile new tech to getting it through the defense acquisition system and onto platforms. This newsletter has a special section on emerging technologies in honor of our upcoming event. Join us next Thursday, and bring your questions!

This Week’s Top Story

Jay Stefany at the 18th Annual Acquisition Research SymposiumUS Navy acquisition chief outlines FY22 priorities
Megan Eckstein, Navy Times

The U.S. Navy will prioritize readiness and sustainment in this new fiscal year, the acting Navy acquisition chief told Defense News.

Fiscal 2022 is starting under a continuing resolution that won’t allow new programs to start or procurement quantities to increase — but Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (ASN RDA), said that’s not as problematic for the Navy this year as it was in previous years.

There are so few new programs this year that, when asked about a list of anomalies the Navy would send to congressional appropriators — which are used to pursue exceptions to CR rules and allow new programs to start or grow in quantity — Stefany said: “For the first CR, it’s not a long list. If there is a second CR, that would be a different story.”

Read more.

Symposium bannerARP and NPS News

18th Annual Acquisition Research Symposium Papers & Proceedings

Sort through papers and presentations, organized by panels.



Acquiring Emerging Technologies bannerAcquiring Emerging Technologies: A Conversation
October 14, 2021  |  12:00-2:00 PT


Join a conversation about recent initiatives in and around the department, blending voices from the innovation ecosystem with the latest findings from technology researchers at NPS.


Chris Manuel, Director of NavalX Central Coast Tech Bridge at Naval Postgraduate School

Dr. Johnathan Mun, NPS Professor of Research

VADM Dave Lewis (Ret.), Acquisition Chair at NPS

Mike Madsen, Director of Strategic Engagement at Defense Innovation Unit



AwardNPS Faculty and Student Receive Award for Innovative Contracting Projects
ARP blog post

Two members of the Naval Postgraduate School community recently received The Future of Pricing and Procurement Award from the Pricing for Contract and Government Professionals magazine.  We are proud to note that NPS has both an established leader and a rising innovator in this year’s recipients–and both are part of the Acquisition Research Program community.

Acquisition and Innovation

Pentagon finishes research for JEDI replacement as Supreme Court dismisses final legal challenge
Jared Serbu, Federal News Network

Air Force pick pledges to tackle F-35 sustainment costs, back nuclear modernization
Joe Gould, Defense News

EIS vendors ‘concerned’ some agencies won’t make 2022 deadline
Billy Mitchell, Fedscoop

Key DOD tech nominee would check for ‘undue bias’ toward prime contractors
Tony Bertuca, Inside Defense

Palantir scores US Army contract to build out intelligence data fabric
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNET

James Geurts Named to Strategic Advisory Board for Intellisense Systems
Carol Collins, Executive Gov


Emerging Technologies

Research: Better Monitoring and Better Spying: The Implications of Emerging Technology for Arms Control
Jane Vaynman, Texas National Security Review

Viewpoint: Transforming Our Systems Engineering Approach Using Digital Technology
Holly Dunlap and Dave Chesebrough, National Defense




Living Within One’s Means: Revisiting Defense Acquisition and Affordability
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Going Back to the Future on Defense Acquisition
Christine Fox and Sarah Stevenson, USNI Proceedings

Securing the MRAP: A Review of James Hasik’s New Book
Mark Wilson, Complex Histories

Audit of Department of Defense Middle Tier of Acquisition Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Fielding Programs
DoD Inspector General




Weapons of Mass Disruption: A Conversation with Admiral James Stavridis on the Future Force, Geopolitics and Leadership
NPS SECNAV Guest Lecture
October 12, 2021  |  3:00 pm PT



Defense and Federal Government

Navy secretary’s new strategic guidance focuses on deterring China from invading Taiwan
Megan Eckstein, Defense News

Swarm grammar: DARPA to test whether single user can control 200 drones
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNET

House Intel Committee OKs Space Force Intel Center
Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency boss reveals data strategy
Nathan Strout, C4ISRNET

Commentary: Biden’s Bold Antitrust Agenda Faces Early Test With Defense Industry
Hank Naughton, The Defense Post





Geospatial Data Strategy
U.S. Department of State

Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Plan
U.S. Department of Defense




House to vote Tuesday on debt limit hike
Cristina Marcos, The Hill

This week in Congress: When will defense appropriations arrive?
Leo Shane III, Military Times

Here’s how the new continuing resolution will frustrate the Pentagon
Joe Gould, Megan Eckstein, Jen Judson  |  Defense News


September 24, 2021                                                                                   Issue 71

It’s been a big week in Congress. The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House last night, and the SASC finalized its version of the bill on Tuesday. It goes to the full Senate in October. The negotiation process has raised the topline to $740 billion, well over the $715 billion starting point. Frank Kendall’s remarks this week suggest there’s a showdown coming over the plus-ups Congress is adding for programs and the DoD’s need to divest and reinvest for future capabilities. Our friend Pete Modigliani is kindly sharing his gloss on some of the more interesting acquisition-related provisions in the SASC NDAA. You’ll see his summary at the end of this week’s newsletter.

You probably know that the House passed its continuing resolution bill. It’s scheduled in the Senate on Monday, with a guarantee that it won’t pass with the included language to suspend the debt ceiling. You may have seen last week’s report from the GAO, which basically concluded that DoD has adapted to life under CRs and is making it work.

We finally have a nominee for the Army’s top acquisition leader—Doug Bush. Still waiting on acquisition leaders for the Navy and A&S.  Speaking of nominees, we were pleased to share an article last week announcing that our good friend Nick Guertin has been nominated as Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. This week we include his paper on value engineering from this year’s symposium, plus a link to the video of his panel.

In other acquisition news, the JEDI contract is becoming something of a zombie—a failed procurement that won’t die. Two Republican lawmakers are requesting additional documents ahead of an October 5 briefing from the DODIG. ARP is offering a webinar next month on how DoD does and can acquire emerging technologies. Check out the events section to register. And today is the NPS summer quarter graduation. You can watch live at 1000 PT!


This Week’s Top Story

Plans for bigger defense budget get boost after House authorization bill vote
Joe Gould and Leo Shane III, Military Times

House lawmakers on Thursday approved plans for a $740 billion defense authorization bill that provides billions more in equipment purchases than the White House requested and all but assures steady growth in military spending next year.

The budget policy measure, which passed by a bipartisan 316 to 113 vote, includes a 2.7 percent pay raise for troops starting in January, sweeping changes to military sexual assault prosecutions, and language requiring women to register for the first time for a potential military draft.

It also contains several provisions related to Afghanistan, as lawmakers continue to attempt to address the messy military exit from that country.

But the most significant detail of the measure may be the inclusion of about $24 billion in funding above what the White House requested. That mirrors plans approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this summer.

Read more.


ARP and NPS News

Highlights from the latest Joint Interagency Field Experimentation event at NPS (video)
Naval Postgraduate School

Using Value Engineering to Propel Cyber-Physical Systems Acquisition
Alfred Schenker and Nickolas Guertin

Panel 21 - Principles for Managing Software Acquisition (video)

Summer quarter graduation with VADM Roy Kitchener, commencement speaker
Naval Postgraduate School
September 24, 2021  |  10:00 am PT


Acquisition and Innovation

Biden Nominates Douglas Bush To Be Army Top Acquisition Official
Andrew Eversden, Breaking Defense

Republicans Press Pentagon on Amazon Bid for Canceled Cloud Deal
Anna Edgerton, Bloomberg

DoD planning to create big data platform to better understand supply chain risks
Jason Miller, Federal News Network

Space Force looking for ‘unity’ in acquisitions despite a medley of agencies
Sandra Erwin, Space News

Air Force Secretary wants to boost work with traditional defense industry
Jackson Barnett, Fedscoop

GSA targeting governmentwide cloud vehicle launch for early fiscal 2022
John Hewitt Jones, Fedscoop

Defense industry must buy into open standards for JADC2 to work, executives say
Billy Mitchell, Fedscoop

Commentary: Presentation is key: Why the Pentagon’s budget data needs a makeover
Jennie Matuschak (CNAS), Defense News



Is the Defense Acquisition System Postured to Solve National Defense Strategy Operational Problems?
RAND Corporation



Acquiring Emerging Technologies: A Conversation
Acquisition Research Program at Naval Postgraduate School
October 14, 2021  |  12:00-2:00 PT

Acquisition Innovation/Research Transition
SERC Annual Research Review
Systems Engineering Research Center
November 2, 2021


Defense and Federal Government

SecAF to Congress: Let us retire aircraft or we can’t beat China
Valerie Insinna, Defense News

Space Force Takes Shape With More Guardians, New Training, and Transferring Missions
Amanda Miller, Air Force Magazine

The Navy Gets Its Drone Fleet Into the Water
James Stavridis, The Washington Post

Learn to Use Data or Risk Dying in Battle, New Army Project Teaches
Patrick Tucker, Defense One

Pentagon’s top nuclear policy official ousted in reorganization
Lara Seligman, Alexander Ward, and Paul McLeary  |  Politico

Trade Versus Subs: The Risky U.S. Tradeoff in the Asia-Pacific
Ian Johnson, Defense One

Commentary: From disruption to diffusion: Scaling innovation across government
Jack Shanahan, Federal News Network

DoD Approves $25 Million in Grants Under Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program
DoD Press Release



Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill
Jordain Carney, The Hill

Lawmakers consider linking Iron Dome with Palestinian aid in continuing resolution
Joe Gould, Defense News

NDAA amendment seeks clarity over cost of cybersecurity regime for small businesses
Jackson Barnett, Fedscoop

Concerned about the Navy retiring ships early, senators consider higher standards
Megan Eckstein, Defense News


Provisions of Note in the SASC NDAA

Compiled by Pete Modigliani, of MITRE Corp.

The Senate Armed Services Committee released their bill for the FY22 NDAA, which has many interesting sections related to acquisition, budget, and commercial solutions. Among the notable sections are:

Section 1002. Commission on Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution Reform.

Establish a Commission on PPBE Reform consisting of 10 members from private civilian life who are recognized experts and have relevant PPBE experience. The Commission shall review PPBE including DPG, POM, and BES; assess the efficacy and efficiency of all phases of PPBE processes, and report to Congress in NLT 1 year on their assessment and recommendations.

Section 803 – Assessment of Impediments and Incentives to Improving the Acquisition of Commercial Technology, Products, and Services

USD(A&S), JROC Chairman (VCJCS) jointly assess impediments and incentives to fulfilling goals of many statutes regarding preferences for commercial products and services. Objective is to enhance the innovation strategy of the DoD to compete against peer adversaries by rapidly adopting commercial advances in technology. Review policies, regulations, and oversight processes, training, role of requirements, competition; PPBE structures, processes, and appropriations categories; systematic biases; contracting officer risks and incentives; and potential reforms.

Section 804 – Pilot Program on Acquisition Practices for Emerging Technologies

USD(A&S) shall establish a pilot program to develop and implement unique acquisition mechanisms for emerging tech to increase speed of transition into acquisition programs or operational use. DoD shall identify and award not less than 4 agreements for new projects to support high-priority defense modernization activities (consideration for: offensive missile capabilities; space-based assets, personnel and quality of life improvements; energy generation and storage) and develop unique acquisition plan for each new project that is significantly novel from standard DoD acquisition practices.

Section 805 – Annual report on the highest and lowest performing DoD acquisition programs

USD(A&S) and SAE will determine criteria for rankings. The decision authority for each of the 5 lowest ranked programs shall submit a report as to the factors, underlying causes, and get-well plan.

Section 806 – Systems Engineering determinations

Ensures Systems Engineering determinations are provided for transactions (e.g., research 10 USC 2371, prototypes 10 USC 2371b, experiments 10 USC 2373, and R&D 10 USC 2358). This includes potential military applications, determination to discontinue, retain/extend, or endorse/refer the project. Receiving organization shall formulate a SEP within 30 days.

Section 811 – Recommendations on Use of OTAs

Review current use, authorities, regulations, and policies on OTAs and modify or expand authorities... including award agreements without the need for prototyping...

Section 816 – Authority to Acquire Innovative Commercial Products and Services Using General Solicitation Competitive Procedures

SECDEF may acquire innovative commercial products and services through a competitive selection of proposals resulting from a general solicitation and the peer review of such proposals. Contracts or agreements >$100M requires USD(A&S) or SAE written determination of the efficacy of the effort to meet DoD mission needs. Contracts or agreements shall be Fixed Price including FPIF. Products/services acquired by this authority shall be treated as commercial products/services. Notify Congress NLT 45 days after contract award >$100M.


Other interesting sections:

  • Section 817: Reporting requirement for defense acquisition activities - Identify all agreements awarded to OT consortia
  • Section 834: Requirement for Industry Days and RFIs be open to Allied Defense Contractors
  • Section 842: Data on SBIR/STTR Phase III Awards
  • Section 852: Independent Study on Technical Debt in Software Intensive Systems
  • Section 854: Two-year extension on Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs)


Want to know more? Read the full SASC FY22 NDAA Bill.