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Task Force to Speed IT Procurement within DoD

lynnDeputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III yesterday announced plans to expedite procurement of information systems in the department, starting with the establishment of a task force that will focus on speeding up the IT acquisition process during the U.S. Strategic Command Cyberspace Symposium.

The task force will have experts from the DoD’s acquisition, technology and logistics office, and the goal is to develop a significantly faster and agile acquisition system more tailored to an IT world than to large pieces of military equipment, Lynn said.

On average, it takes the department 81 months from when an IT program is first funded to when it becomes operational, which means the systems are four to five generations behind the state of the art upon delivery, the deputy secretary said.

The new task force will report directly to Lynn, and he has directed its members to amend IT acquisition around four principles. First, speed must be a priority; in IT, this means 12- to 36-month cycles, and not seven to eight years, Lynn said.

Second, DoD has to acknowledge that incremental development, testing and fielding of new capabilities provide better IT outcomes than trying to field a large, complex system all at once.

“Third, to achieve speedy, incremental improvements, we need to carefully examine how to establish the requirements that govern acquisition,” Lynn said.

The task force, Lynn said, will identify who is being innovative, how to make better use of existing authorities and where to try pilot projects.

“Our intent is to target things we can change now,” he added, “while laying the foundation for longer-term reforms that may require Congress to legislate new authorities.”

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