WEST 2014 Conference Sheds Light on Acquisition Priorities for the Sea Services
February 20, 2014 Leave a comment
Last week industry and government met for the largest event on the West Coast for the maritime services (Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) and the contractors that support them. Many senior military leaders attended and spoke about the direction they are headed and how industry can help. Their remarks echoed previous announcements that the U.S. as a whole (not just the military) is transitioning to face a variety of interconnected 21st Century threats. The Pacific region is a big part of the equation and since it is largely a maritime environment; the Sea Services are at the forefront.
Industry needs to be cognizant of a military that’s getting smaller and leaner, while adapting to shifting fiscal and military realities. To this end, Navy program officers highlighted some technology areas where they could use some help:
- Continuous monitoring was identified as one such area, since it enables a real-time response instead of their usual reliance on forensics analysis, which is after the fact.
- Data management was another pain point as officials lamented the sheer amount of data that exists and goes unused due to a lack of predictive analytics capabilities or awareness of what’s out there. This leads to inefficiencies as program offices don’t know the cost of the data moving through, the value of protecting it, and what data should be prioritized.
- Finally, technologies that take humans out of the loop and automate processes such as patches and updates were also mentioned as needs.
Additionally, Navy acquisition officials brought to light some common pitfalls they see from industry when making proposals:
- Solutions are often too niche and proprietary.
- Need solutions that are modular and interoperable, easy to integrate into a system of systems.
- Need cybersecurity standards baked in from the beginning. This requirement will be featured more heavily in future RFIs and RFPs.
- Need to be sensitive to that agency’s specialized environment.
- Complexity. Many of the tools they buy go unused because there’s not enough time to train sailors how to use it.
The Navy, Marine Corps, and rest of the Department are taking hard looks at what applications and systems they can live without and the Pentagon is attempting to make strategically sound choices when it comes to modernization priorities. Their message to industry is to help them adjust to declining resources by bringing solutions that inform government on all integration changes that need to be made (technology, manpower requirements, and processes). This will require industry to be more cognizant and aware of the business side of the Sea Services and Department as a whole.