Becoming a ‘Chaosmeister’

Acquisition professionals can achieve results beyond their most positive expectations by approaching the current challenges and chaotic acquisition environment as operators — they can innovate and adapt tools and processes, creating networks and coalitions.

These are the times that try [our] souls.” What was said in Revolutionary War times seems as apt today. Resources are shrinking. Our workforce is changing significantly with the departure of the baby boomers. The warfighter’s needs are in great flux, creating instability in Department of Defense (DoD) and military Services requirements. The gulf between Congress and the Executive Branch continues to widen, causing inconsistent direction and uncoordinated oversight. Industry is changing how it works with DoD, adding to the turmoil. Defense acquisition, always a tough job, is getting tougher.

Becoming a ChoasmeisterIs the defense acquirer’s job in a “no-win” situation? It depends on our perspective.

If we approach the challenge purely as administrators of processes, who can only do what we are explicitly told to do, we are indeed in for an unrewarding, unfulfilling time.

If we approach the challenge as operators—committed to innovating and adapting tools and processes to support our goals, creating networks and coalitions that can enlarge our ability to advance our projects, striving to understand the chaotic operational environment of federal and defense acquisition, and leveraging opportunities that come from that understanding—we can achieve results beyond our most positive expectations.

Download this article from Defense AT&L magazine here: Becoming a Chaosmeister – May-June 2015 – Defense AT&L

Backseat drivers plague procurement

Top defense acquisition managers on likened the procurement process in the armed services to a dysfunctionally piloted bus with dozens of backseat drivers — and did so in front of some of those drivers.

Heidi Shyu,  Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology
Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology

“Each seat on the bus is equipped with its own steering wheel and brakes, but no accelerator,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Heidi Shyu said during an April 22 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee.

Each of the drivers, she said, was capable of steering the vehicle in their own direction at the expense of the other drivers. The only thing each couldn’t do was drive the bus forward.

The Senate and House Armed Services committee have made defense acquisition reform a priority, though congressional micromanagement has sometimes been cited as one of the problems with the process.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/04/22/defense-procurement.aspx

Can states teach the feds about procurement?

[The following article was written by Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association.]  

Having recently attended an event by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), one is struck by the alignment of the issues, conversations, and knowledge areas across different sectors. There is much these days that supply chain, state, local, and federal communities could learn from each other. Yet real or perceived organizational, logistical, and cultural differences persist, limiting the identification of problems within one community or another, as well as potential solutions.

The challenge is to look beyond norms and see opportunities across sectors and even nations.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/04/09/states-teach-feds-procurement/25543017/

Longtime procurement expert Dan Gordon set to retire

Come mid-summer, one of the workhorses of federal procurement is set to retire after decades of direct and advisory service to the government.

Former OFPP Administrator Dan Gordon
Former OFPP Administrator Dan Gordon

Dan Gordon, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) and now an associate dean at George Washington University Law School, told FCW in an interview that he has been gradually pulling back from his many advisory roles in the last few months with an eye to retiring by July.

“The goal for July 1 is full retirement,” he said, adding that after that he plans to focus on his continuing study of Chinese languages and then, whatever comes.

Looking back, Gordon said his enthusiasm for the federal government’s procurement system is undimmed, even in the face of the increasing complexity and technological changes that have many calling for reform of the system.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/04/15/gordon-set-to-retire.aspx

Thornberry’s acquisition bill: Solid contact, but no home run

Rep. Mac Thornberry’s much-anticipated defense acquisition reform bill makes considerable strides toward disrupting a procurement process that is widely considered broken, but the bill is far from a fix-all.

House Armed Services CommitteeTitled “Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act,” the bill by the House Armed Services Committee chairman synthesizes more than 1,000 proposals from an eclectic mix of Hill staffers, think tankers, industry experts and Pentagon brass.

The bill begins by attempting to improve the skills of acquisition personnel. In the same spirit as Rep. Thornberry’s March 23 remarks at CSIS, it strikes widely, by permanently extending the Department’s Workforce Development Fund; and narrowly, by directing greater training resources towards building expertise in market research. It also strengthens the foundation of the “dual-track career path,” a valuable staffing strategy that allows military personnel to pursue a primary career in combat arms and a secondary career in acquisition. Guided by this language, the system should see a much-needed injection of human capital.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/politics/2015/04/thornberrys-acquisition-bill-solid-contact-no-home-run/109642