Author Topic: Procurement Writ Large  (Read 2258 times)

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Online Chris Pook

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Procurement Writ Large
« on: May 29, 2011, 12:43:49 »
I don't believe that we have a thread dedicated to the procurement process.  We discuss the budget.  We discuss the minutiae of the systems.  But I don't think we have a thread that discusses solely how to get the best bang/buck ratio.

The thought was prompted by this month's National Defense Magazine
and in particular two articles.

One describes a new initiative for procuring and fielding new comms kit:

Army Trying to Bring Sanity to How It Buys New Technology

Quote
...
After a detailed review of Army information technology that began two years ago, the “aha” moment came when the generals and colonels in the room realized that they were doing it all wrong. The Army had been buying IT networks in isolated stovepipes while, by definition, networks have to be integrated.
...
What the Army needs is for all the pieces of the network “come out at the same time” and function as a cohesive system, he says.

The answer is not to toss every program and start over, but to revamp the business model for how the Army will acquire technology in the future, Chiarelli says. Rather than have individual offices test systems in isolation, the plan is to assign an entire brigade of nearly 4,000 soldiers — the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, Texas — to become a guinea pig for every new piece of hardware or software that the Army is considering buying. The brigade will evaluate existing "programs of record" as well as new equipment that vendors will pitch in response to "requests for information" that the Army will publish.
....
Maj. Gen. Keith Walker, who oversees the “network integration center” at Fort Bliss, says the Army has been doing this backwards. “We evaluate a radio all by itself [which is] completely contrary to the idea of a network, where everything goes together,” he says. The Army traditionally has developed technologies and, at the very end of the cycle, it lets soldiers put it to the test. The process is now being reversed, Walker says. “The sooner you can get a soldier with the engineer, the sooner you can stop a dumb idea or advance a really good idea.”....



And in what I consider a related vein, a discussion about reinventing wheels (or not)

Army Considers Pack Mules to Move Equipment in Tough Afghan Terrain

Quote
....
There have been a handful of research and development programs that have explored leader-follower concepts where robots would keep pace with troops in the field. They could potentially carry heavy equipment and take the burden off soldiers' backs. One of the more notable programs was the BigDog, originally funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Overholt suggested that the talk of bringing mules back to the battlefield is derived from the frustration Army leaders feel that the leader-follower robotics technology is not ready to be fielded while there is an acute need to lighten troops' loads.

"They are not saying 'don't stop moving out on this real key robotic capabilities in challenging environment.' [They are saying] it just might be more cost effective" to use mules, he later told National Defense.

....

IMHO too many people, in both the civilian and military worlds, start their decison making process by trying to solve problems from their own limited store of knowledge.  This prompts them to write specifications that are overly narrow as they try to work around the perceived limitations of what they understand to be available and suitable.  Often times this results in that accretion of patches on patches (Think Windows Operating Systems).

Meanwhile, if they wrote a broad specification (“I want to do this” – as opposed to “Here’s how I want it done”) and a short time line and left it up to the market to offer solutions then they would have the luxury of sorting through alternatives rather than trying to find alternatives.
While there may be a whole bunch of wacky ideas in the pile there will be some tried and true solutions and some potentially game-changing solutions – all provided for free.

And in the meantime it might become obvious that the “Best Available Technology” is still a 6000 year old system like the mule or a 60 year old system like the Chinook.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 12:47:39 by Kirkhill »
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Procurement Writ Large
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2011, 12:46:24 »
Be sure to forward your resume to Julian Fantino.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.