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Official Shares Department of Defense's Technology Goals With Industry


By Terri Moon Cronk
United States Department of Defense

February 5, 2015 - The assistant secretary of defense for acquisition laid out the Defense Department's areas of emphasis and goals for technology for an audience of industry and government officials here yesterday at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.

Because DoD faces budget and investment pipeline challenges, Katrina G. McFarland said, industry and government leaders should think about what they can do to contribute to offset the challenges of what she called "the three nots."

"Technological superiority is not assured, [research and development] is not a variable cost, and time is not recoverable," McFarland said.

Technological Superiority

To keep up with superiority in technology, DoD is looking for "effective counters" in electronic warfare, long-range air-to-air missiles, radars operating in nonconventional environments and bandwidths, counter-space capabilities, long-range and more accurate ballistic and cruise missiles, improved undersea warfare capabilities, and cyber and information operations.

"We're trying to find effective, innovative low-cost solutions against low-cost targets," she said.

Time Not Recoverable

"Time is not recoverable," McFarland said, citing historical military solutions and noting that DoD focused on GPS to give the military "locations, precision-guided munitions and stealth aircraft [technology] that we relied on from the Gulf War to today."

And now, she added, DoD must figure out a "new offset strategy."

Research and Development

And with research and development not being a variable cost, McFarland said, "the combined effects of increased technology challenges with the current budget challenges have led us to a very uncomfortable place."

History shows that when research and development investments have declined, those programs that had forethought are the ones that survived. "The people who think carefully about what we have to face in our future are the ones who will position us, and that is you," she told the audience.

Better Buying Power Initiative

A few years ago, when DoD officials saw an economic decline in its future, the department developed the Better Buying Power initiative.

BBP 1.0 prepared the acquisition community and services to improve spending and get as much from less money as possible. Building on 1.0, BBP 2.0 focused on addressing challenges to national security that exist today and are likely to exist in the future, as well as affordability in the existing and future systems and developing technology.

Better Buying Power 3.0, now in a draft stage, takes the lessons of 1.0 and 2.0 and focuses on technological superiority, McFarland said, encouraging audience members to read the 3.0 draft and submit input to help in finalizing it.

The main topics of Better Buying Power 3.0 are:

-- Achieve affordable programs;

-- Achieve dominant capabilities while controlling lifecycle costs;

-- Incentivize productivity in industry and government;

-- Incentivize innovation in industry and government;

-- Eliminate unproductive processes and bureaucracy;

-- Promote effective competition;

-- Improve tradecraft in acquisition of services; and

-- Improve the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce.

"Our goal is to achieve dominant capabilities through technical excellence and innovation," McFarland said. "And the purpose is to continue strengthening our culture of cost-consciousness, professionalism and technical excellence."

Threat Mitigations

McFarland said DoD is focused on four specific mitigations to existing and emerging threats.

"Our enhanced emphasis is on countering weapons of mass destruction, electronic warfare, delivering space-based capabilities with or without a space layer, and cyber," she said

To mitigate such issues, DoD will make program improvements rather than start new ones, McFarland explained. The department also will work on how it does business to stay ready for threats, and to be able to insert new technology quickly and efficiently, she added.

"That's what we need from industry," she said.

McFarland noted that this isn't the first time the Defense Department and industry have faced fiscal challenges. "We know we're going through troubled times," she said. "We've done it before and succeeded. … Take that energy [and] focus on things that bring what's naturally inside of you to the front."

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