3 Ways COTS Vendors Can Help Air Force Maintain Technological Superiority

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Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Last Wednesday, the Air Force unveiled details of its new acquisition program, “Bending the Cost Curve,” an initiative that aims to increase industry collaboration, lower system costs, and encourage technological innovation. The Air Force — concerned about maintaining technological superiority — came up with the program as a way to complement DOD-wide initiatives, like Better Buying Power.  Bending the Cost Curve, however, is focused on specific ways to target improvements to procurement and drive industry engagement.

Bending the Cost Curve demonstrates the Air Force’s commitment to innovation, and is going to give industry new ways to engage with them going forward. Here are three areas you can help the Air Force advance its mission and maintain technological superiority:

  1. DATA ANALYSIS:

The Air Force is going to be relying more heavily on its data to help them make wise investments with the goal of lowering total lifecycle costs. The department will be using the Cost Capability Analysis program to identify where small changes to weapons systems can have a large impact on overall cost — with little tradeoff to performance. They’ll be looking to gather data from many disparate sources to help them pinpoint these requirements, and will need solutions to bring together their weapons systems data. On the business side, the Air Force will also be standing up an Information Technology Business Analytics office for better decision making on software; they want to take a data-driven approach to help them determine use case for new IT purchases.

  1. SHARING COMMERCIAL BEST PRACTICES:

The IT Business Analytics office idea is borrowed from private industry, and is just one area where the Air Force is looking to industry for ideas on how to improve their internal processes and acquisition practices. They’re looking to enact best practices in order to drive efficiencies, particularly those that can reduce acquisition lifecycle time. One such effort is the “Matchmaker Project,” where industry and government acquisition get together to share what worked and what didn’t after a contract is completed; these types of programs show their commitment to improving, which will be an evolving process — so vendors that have ideas to improve the Air Force’s processes to help them remove red tape and become more agile should have a willing audience.

  1. OPEN ARCHITECTURE:

The Air Force will be targeting the purchase of new technologies to improve open architecture systems and applications. To facilitate the agile purchase of these technologies, they will be sponsoring industry events where companies can showcase live demos for government customers; they are taking these engagements one step further than most agencies by adding a procurement element. A vendor could leave the event and be just a few weeks away from a contract. The first of the PlugFest Plus events took place January 20, and targeted the Air Force’s intelligence systems, including their portion of Distributed Common Ground System. The first event will shape how future events are held and the Air Force will be looking to future events to help shape more of their open architecture systems and applications.

With this new Bending the Cost Curve program, the Air Force is backing up its plan to become more strategically agile with specific action items, which should be a win-win for both them and industry. This will of course be an evolving process, but it seems they are open to receiving feedback as they work towards change and improvement. Now is a great time to meet with your Air Force customers to demonstrate how your technologies can help them meet their goals of improving business practices to benefit their overall mission to be more innovative, maintain technological superiority and drive costs-savings.

3 Responses to 3 Ways COTS Vendors Can Help Air Force Maintain Technological Superiority

  1. Byron Johns says:

    It will be interesting to see if AF Leadership stays engaged with this BCC Initiative to dislodge entrenched operating cultures in the parts of the organization where vendor interaction occurs

  2. Bill Stewart says:

    Can Immix make that document available to us?

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