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Defense Acquisition Workforce Reform and DAU's Transformationstring;#/News/Defense-Acquisition-Workforce-Reform-and-DAU's-TransformationDefense Acquisition Workforce Reform and DAU's Transformation2020-11-17T17:00:00Z News Story Shaffer DAU Transformation.png, News Story Shaffer DAU Transformation.png News Story Shaffer DAU Transformation.png<div class="ExternalClass23742F47B5614FF986E5F243B8782EEC">Team:<br> <br> <strong><a href="">In the past message</a></strong> about transforming workforce development, we discussed the challenges we face as a Department—specifically the return to great power competition with near-peer adversaries. The <strong><a href="">2018 National Defense Strategy</a></strong> calls on everyone in the national security space to face these threats head-on. Those working toward “Back to Basics” to develop, acquire and sustain operational capability for the force won’t be alone on this journey--we are actively transforming DAU into a modern platform of training and on-the-job resources to provide the support and skills you need for success.<br> <br> Our adversaries' ability to rapidly adopt new technology is placing pressure on our acquisition cycle times. If we are to succeed, the Defense acquisition system must move with purposeful speed and agility. The Defense Acquisition Workforce must think critically, make smart decisions, and move quickly to give our Warfighters cutting-edge capabilities, ensuring dominance across every domain.<br> <br> Since her confirmation as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ms. Lord has called on her staff to act as a strategic enabler for the professionals that make our acquisition system work. To this end, we’ve focused on three key areas: <ul> <li>Streamlining acquisition policy to empower workforce decision making</li> <li>Reimagining how we train and develop our workforce</li> <li>Transforming DAU into a modern learning platform</li> </ul> <strong><em>Streamlining acquisition policy:</em></strong> The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment released the Adaptive Acquisition Framework in January 2020. This transformational approach to policy provides a set of flexible acquisition pathways designed to empower program managers and acquisition professionals to tailor strategies, speed up acquisition, and address the immediate needs of the Warfighter. The policy embraces the principles of delegated decision-making, tailoring program oversight to minimize unnecessary bureaucratic processes, and actively managing risk based on the unique characteristics of the capability being acquired. <div style="max-width:850px;"> <div style="position:relative;padding-bottom:52.9412%;text-align:center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="450" id="kaltura_player" src="" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" title="Kaltura Player" width="850"></iframe></div> </div> <br> <strong><em>Reimagining how we develop our workforce: </em></strong>In early September 2020, Ms. Lord announced the Back-to-Basics initiative referenced above—the first major reform of the Defense Acquisition Workforce management framework since the early 1990s. This initiative shifts us from a talent management system built for another time, to one that better reflects modern continuous learning. It will take us “back to the basics” with a sharpened focus on the readiness of the workforce.<br> <br> Back-to-Basics reinvents the structure of career fields into six functional areas: Program Management, Contracting, Life Cycle Logistics, Engineering and Technical Management, Test and Evaluation, and Business – Financial/Cost Estimating. It will also change the structure of required certification training for each of the functional areas.<br> <br> Our current three-level certification requires extensive training time—most of it early in a professional’s career--to achieve certification. The certification program is highly structured and overly comprehensive, making it inflexible and inefficient. Too often, training is provided to the wrong people, or at the wrong time. We are changing this structure with two initiatives.<br> <br> First, we are leaning our certification requirements to a core of training for everyone in a functional area. Unlike the past where everything was required for everybody, we will now only require training that should be broadly applicable in that function area. For example, in contracting, we worked with senior leaders from the military departments and agencies to reduce required certification training from 650 to 250 hours.<br> <br> Training cannot stop with this required core, however. By reducing required training, we’re creating room for user-driven tailored training, on-the-job training, work experience, training through new DAU tools, and job-relevant credentials. These credentials are generally much smaller than a functional certification requirement, but will be structured into learning packages designed to be used by people who need specific knowledge and skills, at the time they need it. The credentials will be tracked, so they follow you through your career. They can serve many different purposes. They can be used to build specialized knowledge and skills within your functional area, so that you are prepared, say, to work in contingency contracting. They support lifelong learning so you can stay up to date in your field. They can help you learn or update your knowledge in rapidly changing cross-functional concepts, like agile development or cybersecurity.<br> <br> Combined with streamlining certification, credentials will increase the ability to shape careers, teams or organizations--tailoring individual development to what is needed, when it’s needed. New and emerging concepts can be more rapidly disseminated and integrated into the acquisition system, improving its flexibility and performance. This new flexibility will require more initiative and planning by workforce members and supervisors, but the reward will be support for lifelong learning, more dynamic careers, and a better acquisition system.<br> <br> <strong><em>Transforming DAU into a modern learning platform: </em></strong>With the Adaptive Acquisition Framework we empowered the workforce to make smart decisions with a wide array of new tools. With the Back-to-Basics initiative we freed-up much needed time and created a foundation for customizable training. To help you succeed in this new, dynamic environment, DAU is transforming into a modern learning platform to deliver career-long learning tailored to your needs.<br> <br> When DAU opened its doors in the early 1990s, the forces driving education and training – particularly how we all learned and consumed information--were radically different. We were living in a time when information was relatively scarce, and the ways to distribute it were relatively few. Fast forward nearly three decades and the landscape has obviously changed dramatically. Today, instantaneous connections to knowledge, resources, and expertise power the global economy and drive our personal lives. To help you thrive in this environment, DAU is transforming from a schoolhouse to a highly-networked platform, using many different modes and methods to provide information, tools, and training from numerous sources.<br> <br> This modern platform will have three important characteristics: <ul> <li><strong>Frictionless learning that provides easy access to training and resources at the moment of need.</strong> When learning is user-driven and time is scarce, it has to be easy to discover the learning or tools that you need, and that learning has to be targeted and efficient. The new DAU platform will making learning available naturally, intuitively, and precisely when it’s needed.</li> <li><strong>World-class content that is high quality, current, and relevant. </strong>In a world where learning is infinitely customizable, we have to make training consumable at the moment of need and personalized to an individual’s circumstance. DAU’s responsive learning program will produce more and smaller segmented courses—conducted both online and onsite—using advanced learning technologies. In our dynamic and flexible acquisition environment, DAU’s content must build critical thinking skills and confidence in each learner's ability to decide and act in order to drive performance excellence. By partnering acquisition subject matter experts with learning science specialists, DAU is developing quality experiences that are personalized, relevant, and informed by the best minds in the field.</li> <li><strong>Dynamic network that connects people who need information to people who have information. </strong>DAU already has scale with its network—it is the only organization connecting all 183,000+ members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. DAU is working to intentionally build connections between people who have the knowledge and those who need it for success.</li> </ul> <strong><em>How will DAU’s transformation impact you?</em></strong><br> <em><u>Quality, engaging content:</u></em> DAU is completely reimagining how it develops its content, both in the classroom and through informal learning, to ensure it meets the expectations of the modern audience. Expect shorter learning modules, more informal learning, and modern, engaging experiences. Ultimately, much of the learning you do will happen while doing your work rather than in one of DAU’s physical classrooms. DAU will also make greater use of its scale, with open online workshops, online communities and online events that connect you with thousands of your acquisition counterparts. The recent virtual TEDxDAU, attended by over 3,000 people, is an example of the power of scale.<br> <br> <em><u>Learning tailored to your needs:</u></em> DAU conducted extensive interviews with stakeholders, acquisition leaders, and you, the members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. Many of you, and a not-insignificant number of your supervisors, told us the training received from DAU was too general and didn’t meet the specific needs of your job or role. To increase the return on investment you make in training and development, DAU has embraced the ethos of the Back-to-Basics initiative and is actively developing job and role-based credentials. These credentials are designed to augment your foundational training and provide you with the knowledge and skills that you decide are needed for your job. The increased use of credentials will also help you build your expertise for future promotions and new professional roles. To date, DAU has released eight credentials with dozens more in development.<br> <br> <em><u>Shorter classes:</u></em> Classroom training can be an incredibly positive learning experience, it’s also expensive for the learner and the government. We’ve already discussed the policy changes we’re making to training requirements through the Back-to-Basics initiative, but DAU is also intentionally restructuring its curriculum. These changes will result in shorter classroom courses augmented by a rich array of other learning experiences, including job-specific credentials, informal learning resources (e.g. articles and videos), and an increased use of self-paced topical modules. DAU is focused on using the classroom where it is most powerful—for cross-functional, team-based, and experiential learning.<br> <br> <em><u>More online learning:</u></em> Our continuing experience with extended telework in response to the pandemic has demonstrated that DAU can deliver quality learning in the virtual environment, at scale. DAU is actively working to make these experiences even better by increasing flexibility with more self-paced instruction and designing engaging online exercises to help you apply new knowledge. With this increase in virtual learning, you will no longer have to be away from your job eight hours a day, for weeks at a time. Instead, this pivot will allow you to integrate what you learn directly with the work you do every day. And of course, you’ll spend less time away from your home, your friends, and your family.<br> <br> <em><u>Learning at the moment of need:</u></em> YouTube is the go-to learning resource for “do-it-yourself” projects. In the modern world, it just makes sense to watch a quick video to learn a specific task. Why would anyone seek out, and sit through, an eight-hour automotive repair class to replace a headlight, if they can watch an eight-minute video online? Just the thought of doing so probably seems absurd to many of you. There is certainly a time and place for more formal, professional education, but DAU is working to rebalance its curriculum to make sure you can find the focused training you need, when you need it.<br> <br> <em><u>Acquisition program consulting:</u></em> Sometimes a course isn’t enough and your project or program needs an outside perspective to help it navigate a tricky challenge. DAU’s transformation will enable it to continue providing support beyond the classroom as a trusted acquisition partner. From customized, complex simulations, such as helping your team prepare for an upcoming source selection to smaller, more topical workshops on subjects like the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, DAU will be better positioned to help your team succeed.<br> <br> <strong><em>What’s next?</em></strong><br> The challenges we face as a Department and professionals are daunting, but not insurmountable. Through the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, the Back-to-Basics initiative, and DAU’s transformation, we’ve empowered both individuals and organizations to make programmatic and development decisions that reflect their needs, rather than a mandated, top-down approach. These actions are designed to help our system move with greater speed, agility, and efficiency.<br> <br> In this new environment, both individuals and supervisors will have increased responsibility for managing training and development opportunities. This will require greater attention to your personal career goals and growth, while also focusing on the needs of your organization. As the adage goes, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” You won’t be alone as we pivot to this new model; Ms. Lord’s offices, DAU, Service Acquisition Executives, Component Acquisition Executives, and DACM offices are working together to provide you with the resources you need to ensure positive acquisition outcomes. <hr /><strong>[RELATED CONTENT: <a href="">"Back to Basics" for the Defense Acquisition Workforce, a memo from Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment</a>]<br> [RELATED CONTENT: <a href="">Back-to-Basics for the Defense Acquisition Workforce Empowering the Workforce Today and for Their Future!</a>]</strong></div>string;#/News/Defense-Acquisition-Workforce-Reform-and-DAU's-Transformation
A Hard Talk about Software with USD(A&S) Ellen Lordstring;#/News/A-Hard-Talk-about-SoftwareA Hard Talk about Software with USD(A&S) Ellen Lord2020-11-12T12:00:00Z - TDEL - Rotator.png, - TDEL - Rotator.png - TDEL - Rotator.png<div class="ExternalClass83EEC71042A44A5EB52AF8C680315912"><p>Nearly one year after the release of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF), the new defining policy document for the Software Pathway has been delivered, guiding the military’s software development and streamlining the acquisition process. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord signed DoD Instruction 5000.87 (Operation of the Software Acquisition Pathway) Oct. 2 to establish official policy and responsibilities and prescribe procedures for programs acquiring software. </p> <p>Following the release of this document, Lord sat down – virtually – with DAU President Jim Woolsey for a <em>Think Differently</em> webcast where they discussed software acquisitions, the AAF, defense acquisition successes from the past year and what the Defense Acquisition Workforce can expect going forward.</p> <p>“[One of the] largest accomplishments I believe we have had is the total rewrite of the 5000 series, our Acquisition policy, narrowing it down to the fundamentals and provid[ing] the workforce with an opportunity to tailor their future,” Lord said. “I was extremely determined coming into this job to ‘move at the speed of relevancy,’ as Secretary Mattis used to say, and the team has made astronomical changes in terms of how we are acquiring goods and services with six different pathways, a ‘back to basics’ initiative, bringing point-of-need training and job relevant credentials to focus.”</p> <p>Considering the acquisition policy rewrite, Lord is confident that this revision addresses the 70 to 80 percent focus on sustainment costs incurred during life cycle management due to the fact that the rewrite drives efficiencies earlier and places emphasis on cost implications, but the shift has to take place in practice. </p> <p>Lord highlighted three additional accomplishments of the Acquisition and Sustainment team that she was particularly proud of for fiscal year 2020, starting with cybersecurity expansions of the defense industrial base and national weapons systems. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)) rolled out the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and also expanded upon the acquisition pathways to make sure that cybersecurity standards in weapons systems exceed quality expectations. </p> <p>Secondly, was their work with the nuclear weapons council and the modernization of nuclear deterrence. This supports not only guarding against nuclear attack, but conventional weapons as well. ­­­­OUSD(A&S) has taken immense strides to modernize support, elevate standards and launch provisions designed to ensure a robust national industrial base and the protection of state.</p> <p>The third accomplishment to date, Lord stated, was the COVID-19 response from the OUSD(A&S) team. They showed remarkable support and a rapid stand-up of capability in a time of emergency, providing assistance for Health and Human Services (HHS), FEMA, and across the government and the nation. </p> <p>Software was the dominant topic of the discussion between Lord and Woolsey, who discussed everything from the tactical development of software by coders to the large-scale implications software has on national defense.</p> <p>A digital transformation is underway; the Warfighter will depend on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the future and defense capabilities will continue to evolve and change with the implementation of digital engineering, design and testing. With today’s environment of rapid technological advancements and the changing character of war, Warfighters need access to intelligence and communication capabilities to enable quick decision-making and maintain a competitive edge. </p> <p>“I want our [coders] to get downrange and talk to the Warfighter, or talk to them virtually,” Lord said. “I want them to understand what the problem is, and then hand a potential solution, a prototype, and let that get in the Warfighter's hands to try.”</p> <p>This data-driven, hands-on approach to new policies and instructions is complimentary to the future of business. The mission to utilize software within the OUSD(A&S) directly supports the Warfighter – giving the acquisition workforce the ability to leverage data collected, apply multi-platform system standards, and then program within those systems the capability to analyze data compiled to determine optimal solutions. </p> <p>Focusing training on core competencies required to execute the business as well as point-of-need training and job-relevant credentials will enhance acquisition workforce skillsets relevant to do the job and deliver those capabilities in a time critical, data-driven, meaningful way to the Warfighter. </p> <p> “An 80 percent solution quickly is often far, far more valuable than a 99 percent solution six months from now,” Lord said. “Time matters, and we are trying to allow the workforce to be responsive.”</p> <p>Lord focuses on process versus activity, and prefers to look at the return on invested capital, whether that be money, or people’s time. The new software pathway allows for tangible output and to get going quickly and not admire the problem for long periods of time. </p> <p>Lord expressed the importance in supporting the technology developers and considering the problem that is trying to be solved, using “creative compliance” to come up with the best acquisition pathway to get there. Lord explains that the policy does not follow the same protocol as a preflight checklist, where is it crucial to follow the same protocol, every time. This is about looking at the customer or user needs, thinking critically, and tailoring an acquisition strategy to meet that need.</p> <p>All these initiatives are focused on empowering the workforce to act decisively and quickly, removing unnecessary bureaucratic processes and ensuring they have the right information and training at the right point in their career. These efforts, spearheaded by Lord throughout FY20, will continue through FY21 and beyond as policy documents are improved and modified based on workforce feedback and needs.</p> <p>“The policy is very lean and reflects the continuous involvement with the customer, a major step forward,” Woolsey said. “This is all part of a larger digital transformation. The emphasis is on supporting the Warfighter and data decision needs; the Warfighter will depend on artificial intelligence in the future and even how we develop our capabilities, with digital engineering and testing.”</p> <p>The Software pathway is designed for software-intensive systems, with the objective to facilitate rapid and iterative delivery of software capability to the user at the highest priority of need, with a keen awareness of the data-driven future of business. This pathway integrates modern software development practice such as Agile Software Development, DevSecOps and Lean Practices, capitalizing on active user engagement and leveraging enterprise services. Instead of delivering a product once at the end of a long timeframe, tightly coupled, mission-focused government-industry software teams developing software iteratively release the software to the operational environment and make changes based on user feedback and needs.</p> <p>“How do we measure how well we are doing?” Lord said. “We have been extremely disciplined under Secretary [of Defense Mark] Esper and the Deputy Secretary of Defense to come monthly with our major defense acquisition programs and rate where we are in terms of cost, schedule, performance. And now we are looking at the cyber vulnerabilities. We’re really going to have to use all of that data we are generating to truly manage progress in terms of these programs.”</p> <p>Lord stated it comes down to metrics – capturing them and shining a light on them in the vision of leadership. Lord expressed her interest in the technology side of the workforce, explaining that successfully bringing technology into programs is often easier to achieve since individuals typically emerge from their education with good technical skills and then they apply them.</p> <p>Lord noted the culture of business change is not so clear and easy. One of the key enablers to having a true high-performing digital workforce is to make sure we have the business systems and tools that are required.</p> <p>“One of the key reasons for the rewrite is to make sure the business systems do not hold back the technical innovation,” Lord said. “They go side by side. This effort takes a lot of training … less on the receive mode and more experiential learning.” </p> <p>This transformation of learning in the workforce directly relates to DAU’s transformation to a modern learning platform and there is a parallel between the future of acquisition training and the AAF. Each strategy became larger than life, with the intention to “become everything to everybody” according to Woolsey. Ultimately, after careful thought and consideration, the AAF rationalized the 5000 series to the basics, letting individuals tailor up as needed. Correspondingly, in training, Woolsey said, “DAU is taking the core of its training to the necessities and allowing individuals to build their own knowledge as their careers depend.”</p> <p>Leadership’s current approach for many software policies and instructions has been allowing the workforce a hands-on approach to challenging product, avoiding the middleman and going directly to the source. DAU follows a similar approach, focusing on the acquisition workforce needs.</p> <p>Lord has always been a champion of improving acquisition training to provide the right level of information and training at the right time in the most interesting way possible. This reduces time spent in training and gets program managers the information they need faster and in ways that they want to learn. </p> <p>“This is exactly the transformation DAU has been taking for the last couple of years,” Lord said. “Whether it be the TEDxDAU, where you have actual practitioners talk about compelling issues they have and explain how they address them … program managers or program executive officers standing up and talking about real life problems … vignettes DAU has recorded, videotaping, the podcasts, the webinars, I think that is incredibly important so people hear what is relevant to what they are doing today and they hear it from their peers – their contemporaries – versus reading what was done 20 years ago.” </p> <p>The Defense Acquisition Workforce experiences a complex myriad of processes in the life cycle of development. The design of Agile has benefited the force in that it does not attempt to define detailed steps and requirements from the beginning. Instead, this leaner and faster process of planning for procurement starts with a vision and works backwards, expecting and allowing for a shift based on the user’s needs. </p> <p>Credentials are an example of empowering the workforce to tailor their training based on their needs.</p> <p>“In the old world, the way we would have gotten Agile [methodologies] into the workforce would have been to make it a required course for certification,” Woolsey said. “But it would take years for that to happen as people cycle through the certification program.” </p> <p>Today, DAU offers nearly a dozen credentials, including one for Agile, shares powerful examples on its website, and offers a wide variety of practical tools to help acquisition professionals on the job, Woolsey stated. This cross-functional practice gives awareness to the workforce, providing knowledge, diversity and a platform for leadership to take responsibility for their development and success. This new process is an active and purposeful one, rationalizing what the individual and workplace needs and allowing them both the space to grow into their obligations.</p> <p>“We are changing the way the workforce is trained, to use all the different tools, and to be as flexible and customer-driven as [we] can be," Woolsey said.</p> <p>Acquisition does not happen in a vacuum—it takes teamwork between the Defense Department and industry partners to get services and products into the hands of the Warfighter. As a reflection of Lord's history as an executive for Textron, she is always considering the relationship between Defense and industry, providing additional insights unique to her perspective and experience.</p> <p>An illustration of this competency is Lord’s DoD Public-Private Talent Exchange program between acquisition industry professionals and the government. This initiative has assigned private sector employees to civilian defense positions and vice versa to provide participants with a secular view of each other’s respective operations and share practices.</p> <p>“It is absolutely incredible,” Lord said. “Industry professionals realize all of the statutes we have to comply with [in the government], the complexity of the legalities, and complexity of getting an RFP (request for proposal) out. On the flip side, the government individuals realize what it takes to submit a proposal and how onerous it can be to make sure you are compliant so you have a proposal that will not get kicked back, so to speak.”</p> <p>Lord stated that an exchange of both learning and respect results from the experience and most importantly, incredible networks are formed which benefit the government-industry ecosystem tremendously. </p> <p>“Communication is absolutely critical,” Lord said. “One of things I have tried to promote in all of my colleagues and teammates, all of which have been very supportive and generous in doing, is meeting with the industry on a routine basis.”</p> <p>Lord said her team has engaged three industry associations to be <em>force multipliers</em>, working with CEO’s of Professional Services Council (PSC), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) to quarterly have meetings with representatives from DoD sectors such as A&S, Research and Engineering, Service Acquisition Executives, and agencies in an effort to discuss challenges, pressures and expectations of each side.</p> <p>Collaboration has proven beneficial in the pursuit of strengthening national security. In an effort to gain knowledge on financial and tactical expectations of the nation’s security provisions, OUSD(A&S) analyzed data gained from briefings with the Defense Science Board and Defense Innovation Board. As a result, the team designed straightforward, sophisticated, cost-effective pathfinder projects to better understand the ‘software color of money’ and presented these findings to Congress. Congress, legislators and other stakeholders authorize that pursuit with a purpose of supporting the perspective of the Warfighter from an objective and educated posture.</p> <p>“On a different vector, when we talked about cybersecurity on the Hill, we came up with the notion of the CMMC standard and certification and rolling it out over five years, and Congress backed us up,” Lord said. “If Congress hadn’t stood shoulder to shoulder with us we would not have had an interim rule published. It is striking how hard the staffers are working to solve problems. It is fantastic to see the level of interest from individuals who take the time to educate themselves and understand the issues, because that is where you can be constructive.”</p> <p>Due to the complex and evolving nature of technology and industry, there is a steady demand to maintain the power in challenging yourself and the industry to beat outdated systems. Similar to how Think Differently webcasts are a non-traditional approach to communicating information to the Defense Acquisition Workforce, Lord reiterated the importance of communication, cooperation and continuous improvement, as the DoD continues their efforts to demystify and decode the Software pathway and principles. </p> <p>“You need to form a network of like-minded thinkers,” Lord said. “Share what’s going on so you can share your challenges and how they’ve dealt with it … you really have a group to bounce things off of, and figure out what has worked for everybody and what hasn’t.”</p> <p>Lord expressed the importance in finding a <em>champion</em> within one’s organizational structure; identifying people within the Services who are trying to do things very differently – acquisition professionals in or outside of an individual’s chain of command pushing for change and rooted in perspective and ideas very different than the norm. </p> <p>During her tenure as undersecretary, Lord stressed that cooperation has been one of her key themes, identifying the role of a leader, with the overarching responsibility to “provide support, help and ideas” to those who need it, and the importance of bringing information from the field back to the offices of DAU and USD(A&S).</p> <p>“Cooperative learning and learning from one another is a very powerful thing,” Lord said. “This is what we as leaders need to deal with, so reach out to us confidentially if you want some support, help or ideas. We really do answer our emails and answer our phones.”</p> <p>Reducing complexity in systems is a reoccurring theme in Lord's initiatives. Much like the AAF and simplified policies for defense acquisition, the Back-to-Basics initiative focuses on the core competencies required for the workforce to execute their job with a focus on point of need training and job relevant credentials.</p> <p>“In training we are taking the core of what the workforce needs, narrowing down to the fundamentals and then through the credentials, tailoring up, allowing the workforce to build their own knowledge and skillset as their careers depend,” Woolsey said.</p> <p>Whether it is tailoring a professional development path or an acquisition strategy, the emphasis is on thinking critically and doing what makes sense. This also allows for flexibility to adjust course along the way. </p> <p>“We know [the software policy] is not perfect, we know it’s directionally extremely correct, but we know it’s a living document,” Lord said. “We are going to get those cycles of learning, and just like we do with software, we are going to build – test – build – test – build – test, plan it out and keep going, because as we did with many of the interim policies, we got them out there, let people work with them, learned a lot and figured it out.”</p> <p>Software is everywhere and there is a necessity to embrace it, Lord said. Congress continues to provide operational, logistical and financial support to improve the workforce and defense systems, heeding to requests and recommendations, and providing OUSD(A&S) and the workforce with authority and a voice to implement change.</p> <p>Related Content: Think Differently webcast with Ellen Lord, USD(A&S) [hyperlink]<a href="/events/Think%20Differently%20with%20Ms%20Lord" target="_blank"><strong></strong></a></p></div>string;#/News/A-Hard-Talk-about-Software



The Next Little-Known Flexible Acquisition Authority Next Little-Known Flexible Acquisition Authority2020-11-19T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass3D7A6435A6794A99B76EE486C17915BC">Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 provides promise after a colossally challenging year marked by a global pandemic. Private and public sector entities will attempt to regain a sense of normalcy. However, one issue remains constant—the United States undoubtedly will see additional and increasingly complex threats from adversaries as technologies advance rapidly. National defense priorities identified in the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) remain at the forefront of the Department of Defense (DoD) mission as the character of war continuously changes. To endure success and enhance its competitive advantages, the DoD must modernize its capabilities by creating and promoting the right environment, mindset, and tools to embrace innovation and reasonable risk-taking.<br> <br> DoD entities are using innovative and flexible contractual instruments more and more often to pursue the acquisition pathways outlined per the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF). While a handful of options exist and are more commonly used, one authority continues to be greatly underutilized—10 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 2373, “Procurement for Experimental Purposes.” This authority, while not new to the DoD, can be incredibly beneficial for DoD entities not only in their research and development (R&D) or science and technology efforts but also their procurement actions necessary to support various AAF pathways. Unfortunately, many within DoD’s acquisition workforce are unaware of the authority or do not have leadership support to utilize the authority. This article outlines the flexible instrument and provide valuable information to assist with modernized acquisition. <h2><img alt="Table 1 Information on PEP's Under 10 U.S.C 2373. Must be used for experimental or test purposes/efforts (supported by documentation). Must meet one or more of the nine focus areas. Are available for supplies, including parts and accessories, and designs thereof—services are not included, and their inclusion in the acquisition may only be tangential to the supply acquisition. Can be used to develop new capabilities, test new capabilities created by any source prior to fielding, and enhance and/or assess existing capabilities (examples include technical evaluation, experimentation, operational utility assessment, or to maintain a residual operational capability). Can be made with vendors inside or outside the United States. Not the same as agreements under OT authorities (10 U.S.C. 2371 or 10 U.S.C. 2371b) but is a companion authority to the OT authorities. Can support several AAF acquisition pathways. Can be awarded using competitive or noncompetitive procedures. Can be awarded by a warranted Contracting Officer or Agreements Officer, depending on the specifics of the legally binding agreement. No specified limit on unit quantities per purchase or agreement, so long as total quantities being acquired are needed for experimental or test efforts. No statutory or regulatory approval levels exist (entities should adhere to their entity’s internal processes or consult their legal counsel and HCA/SPE). Can be funded by various appropriation types depending on effort purpose (as determined by fiscal law)." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Nov-Dec_2020/DefAcq_Nov-Dec20_article2_table1.jpg" style="width:303px;height:600px;margin-left:5px;margin-right:5px;float:left;" /><br> The AAF Defined</h2> The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OUSD) Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S) published AAF guidance and associated acquisition policies in January 2020. The OUSD (A&S) AAF initiatives were created in response to the 2018 NDS that included an objective to reform the DoD’s business practices for greater performance. These policy changes were intended to make acquisition processes more timely, more agile, and free of unnecessary or excessive bureaucracy to deliver capabilities and technology advancements as quickly as possible to the Warfighter. The AAF outlines six acquisition pathways for DoD entities to select based on program size, risk, urgency, complexity, and other characteristics. It also permits entities to utilize a combination of pathways if a single pathway does not provide the most value based on the identified requirements. Visit the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) website ( for additional AAF information.<br> <br> DoD entities can select from a buffet of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and non-FAR contractual instruments when implementing the selected acquisition pathway(s). Examples include, but are not limited to, contracting by negotiation (FAR Part 15), simplified acquisitions (FAR Part 13.5), federal supply schedules (FAR Part 8.4), other transactions (OTs) (10 U.S.C. 2371 and 2371b), and procurement for experimental purposes (herein referred to as “PEPs”) (10 U.S.C. 2373). Since there is no one-size-fits-all contractual option for each acquisition pathway, DoD entities must base instrument selection on their acquisition strategy and consideration of defined requirement(s), risks, and desired outcomes. <h2>Procurements for Experimental Purposes (PEPs) and Authorized Entities</h2> Under 10 U.S.C. 2373 the DoD is authorized to use PEPs for acquisitions of items in certain categories:<br> The Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the military departments may each buy ordnance, signal, chemical activity, transportation, energy, medical, space-flight, telecommunications, and aeronautical supplies, including parts, accessories, and designs thereof, that the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary concerned considers necessary for experimental or test purposes in the development of the best supplies that are needed for the national defense.<br> <br> PEPs are not new to the DoD, as the statute was enacted in FY 1994 at the same time as the Prototype OT authority (10 U.S.C. 2371b). Similar in purpose to OT agreements, but distinctly different in application, PEPs are another unique and flexible acquisition instrument for DoD entities to use (if they have been delegated the authority) that are not required to adhere to the major laws and regulations that govern traditional procurement contracting. See additional information on PEPs in Table 1.<br> <br> PEPs are flexible for various important reasons: <ul> <li>There are no federal laws or DoD regulations or policies that specifically define what is included in each of the nine focus areas. The terms describing the focus areas are extremely broad and open to reasonable interpretation. Thus, DoD entities can be creatively compliant with program requirements relative to the authority.</li> <li>Since the statute includes the terms “supplies,” “parts,” “accessories,” and “designs,” DoD entities can procure a wide range of items that may include platforms, systems, components, materials, drawings, and more. Unfortunately, one common type of acquisition is not included in the statute—services. The main focus of the acquisition must be on the supply item and any associated services that are acquired with it must be tangential to it. As currently written, the statute does not allow for an acquisition that is solely or primarily for services, even if the services fall within one of the topic areas.</li> <li>Neither the statute nor DoD policy limits purchases to a maximum dollar amount or quantity per PEP agreement. Quantities, regardless of number, may be based on the entity’s available budget and verification as long that the number is limited to what is necessary for experimentation or test purposes. As a result, DoD entities have individual discretion to establish and adhere to their own processes and procedures relative to agreement amounts (prices), quantities, or required approval authorities. Entities should be cautious, however, to not misuse this authority to purchase more items than are reasonably necessary for the test or assessment. The needs of each situation will differ but must be documented to ensure that the rationale meets the authority’s intent.</li> </ul> PEPs clearly are another innovative tool that could have significant importance to national defense and they have been supported by Congress for many years. Within the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018, Congress required the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) to establish a preference for using PEPs and OTs when executing science and technology and prototyping programs. Additionally, Congress has expanded the list of topic areas regularly since the statute was enacted, signaling a continued interest in this authority and desire for its use. It is very important, however, that those who wish to use the PEP authority understand that this is a separate and distinct authority from the two OT authorities, as explained in Senate Report 114-49, Section 826. The agreements awarded under 10 U.S.C. 2373 will not be called OTs, but each will be a unique agreement with custom content and format. Entities are free to choose a name for these agreements as well as freely negotiate the terms and conditions as long as the authority cited in the agreement is 10 U.S.C. 2373.<br> <br> <img alt="Table 2. PEP's Versus OTs. PEPs Authority per 10 U.S.C. §2373 Can be awarded using competitive or noncompetitive procedures Can be used to purchase existing products for operational utility assessments DoD guide or policy memorandums do not exist Training not available to DoD’s workforce No DoD certification/credential program exists. PEPs and OTs. Authorities originates from laws (statutes) Support the NDS and AAF pathways Require leadership support (top level “buy-in”) Require team members with business acumen and experience across multiple functional areas Not appropriate for all DoD entities or efforts Major acquisition laws and regulations do not apply Involves negotiable terms and conditions Documentation required to justify authority use Can be used to develop new capabilities or enhance existing capabilities Can be awarded by a Contracting Officer/Agreements Officer Agreements can be written with commercial terms Can be funded by various appropriation types Future acquisition of larger quantities would be done wtih FAR-based contracts GAO has limited jurisdiction to review decisions/protests. OTs. Authorities per 10 U.S.C. §2371 and 10 U.S.C. 2371b Requires competitive procedures to the maximum extent practicable Can transition to a Production OT (if criteria met) DoD guide and policy memorandums exist Training available to DoD’s workforce No DoD certification/credential program exists." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Nov-Dec_2020/DefAcq_Nov-Dec20_article2_table2.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:664px;height:500px;" />Unfortunately, not all DoD entities have been delegated the PEP authority. While the military Service Secretaries have the authority by statute and can delegate it within their organizations, the SECDEF maintains the responsibility for delegating PEP authority to the defense agencies. As of September 2020, only a handful of DoD entities have been delegated PEP authority by their leadership, including the Navy, Army (select commands), Air Force (select commands), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Before any DoD entity plans to use this authority, workforce members must make sure that they have been properly delegated the authority. Personnel can review their organization’s “charter” within the DoD’s Directives library or consult with legal counsel to validate the PEP authority delegation. For instance, DoD Directive 5134.10, “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),” delegates 10 U.S.C. 2373 authority to DARPA and requires DARPA’s Director to establish PEP-related authorities and responsibilities. Alternatively, DoD Directive 5105.85, “Defense Innovation Unit (DIU),” and DoD Directive 5136.13, “Defense Health Agency (DHA),” do not delegate 10 U.S.C. 2373 authority to either DIU or DHA. <h2>Comparing and Contrasting<br> PEPs and OTs</h2> PEPs and OTs are both flexible and innovative contractual instruments. While they have similar characteristics, they cannot be confused with one another. Table 2 illustrates the similarities and differences between the instruments (NOTE: The information in Table 2 is current as of September 2020).<br> <br> DoD entities have utilized OTs with ever-increasing frequency and in greater numbers while PEPs rarely have been used since the authorities were enacted. The reasons are simple: (1) more DoD entities have authority to use OTs than those with authority to use PEPs; (2) the OUSD has published OT guidance and policies, but none for PEPs; and (3) the DoD has various training events specific to OTs, but none for PEPs. However, PEP popularity and usage will increase significantly if Congress continues expanding the PEP focus areas, the SECDEF delegates PEP authority to more DoD entities (such as DIU, DHA, and others), and the OUSD creates PEP guidance and related training.<br> <br> Table 3 outlines broad, hypothetical examples that can assist entities that highlight when PEPs would be an appropriate contractual instrument given a requirement (assuming PEP authority exists). <h2><img alt="Table 3. Examples for using PEPs. PEP Example 1. A DoD entity received authority and funding for a new program in response to a Government Accountability Office audit that identified the DoD did not have safe or effective medical products for U.S. Warfighters. Specifically, the audit found that DoD did not have adequate medical products or supplies to treat Warfighters’ injuries in battlefield settings. The new program was approved to follow the “Urgent Capability Acquisition” pathway from the AAF, with program requirements to expedite the development and distribution of safe and effective medical products for Warfighters. Significant experimentation, testing, and operational assessments will be required for some of the highest priority items, such as blood products, therapeutics, and vaccines. It would be appropriate for the DoD entity to consider using PEPs since the effort relates to one of the nine focus areas (medical), will involve experimentation and testing, and directly supports national defense. If the entity proceeds with a PEP, the entity should consider what appropriate future activities should be used to realize the program goals. Did the entity find an existing technology or product that would satisfy the entity’s needs? If so, a subsequent purchase of larger quantities would be planned and implemented. Did the entity determine that additional R&D efforts are needed to modify or amend an identified technical solution and improve its satisfaction of the entity’s needs? The entity could then consider proceeding with an R&D procurement contract or a Prototype OT agreement, depending on the situation. Did the entity determine none of the existing solutions were feasible, and therefore needs to start from scratch to create a new solution? Perhaps a grant or cooperative agreement would make sense. Remember, PEPs are not appropriate for purchasing quantities beyond those needed for experimentation or testing purposes. Also, there is no allowance for a non-competitive follow-on acquisition option with PEPs as there is with Prototype OTs under 10 U.S.C. 2371b. If an organization wishes to pursue a future acquisition, it will need to consider all of the available options, and the rules associated with each, to accomplish the subsequent requirement. PEP Example 2. A DoD entity needs to procure tablet computers and related communications equipment to better assist Warfighters in combat areas. Current computers and communications equipment in inventory are heavy, have short battery lives and slow processing times, rarely connect to cellular networks, and cannot be used for video-conferencing or to view presentations. Commercial technologies have advanced so rapidly that the DoD is considering leveraging the advancements for military use. The program anticipates that testing activities will be required before any new computers or communications equipment can be purchased for operational purposes or go into inventory. It would be appropriate for the DoD entity to consider using PEPs since the effort relates to more than one of the nine focus areas (signal and telecommunications), will involve testing and capabilities assessments, and directly supports national defense. PEPs can provide immediate benefits since time is of the essence, the effort will most likely involve the commercial sector, and the standard procurement rules and regulations, including the Competition in Contracting Act,) do not apply, allowing for opportunities to purchase test items from multiple sources quickly and on commercial terms. PEP Example 3. A DoD entity has a requirement to upgrade its existing aircraft (in the field for 10 years) that will provide significant improvements relative to the original aircraft form, fit, and function. Upgrades include modernized machine guns, modernized avionics displays, a lighter ballistic protection system for the cargo loading system, and a new communications system. Although all 300 aircraft in the fleet ultimately will be upgraded, the entity only plans to test 10 of them. It would be appropriate for the DoD entity to consider using PEPs since the effort relates to at least two of the nine focus areas (ordnance and transportation), will involve testing, and directly supports national defense. The entity, however, should carefully evaluate its acquisition and contracting strategy since it is only planning to test 10 of the 300 aircraft. PEPs are not appropriate for quantities associated with full-rate production or other quantities intended to be placed into inventory with experimentation or testing. Rather, PEPs should only include quantities for technical evaluation, experimentation, operational utility assessment, or to maintain a residual operational capability. Entities should strategically plan the use of PEPs and how PEP results could help inform plans for future Prototype OTs, FAR-based contracts, or other contractual instruments as appropriate." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Nov-Dec_2020/DefAcq_Nov-Dec20_article2_table3.jpg" style="width:760px;height:1000px;" /><br> PEP Tips</h2> The following tips are intended to assist with PEP usage, including planning, execution, and administration functions.<br> Use the Authority. <h3>If You Don’t Have It, Request It.</h3> DoD entities that have PEP authority should seek to maximize their use of the authority to provide their workforce with yet another innovative acquisition tool that will help the DoD maintain its competitive edge. DoD leaders must proactively support authority usage and empower their workforce, especially since the DoD’s requested FY 2021 budget included the largest amount in its history to support urgent technology development. PEPs are ideal for entities with requirements in areas such as cyber, space, artificial intelligence, missile defense, ground vehicles, spares and obsolescence alternatives, medical supplies and devices, radios, and phones. Such areas are all but certain to touch one or more of the nine current focus areas outlined in the statute, but represent just a small sample of potential uses of the authority. It also is a useful option for entities that don’t have situations that would be appropriate for OTs and other innovative contractual options and/or that may not have RDT&E funding. This authority allows for entities performing operational or sustainment type functions to seek alternative products or solutions that may already largely exist in the commercial market for their ongoing needs. On the other hand, leaders of DoD entities that lack PEP authority should collaborate with their respective contracting heads and legal counsels or contact the OUSD through their respective chains of command to request authority. <h3>Include Personnel from Different Functional Areas.</h3> PEP subject-matter experts simply are not sitting idle or readily available on rosters within DoD entities. Also, since only a few DoD entities have PEP authority, PEPs most likely will be a new learning experience for many DoD personnel. To endure success with PEPs, DoD entities must assign dedicated personnel with diverse functional area experience to support the team from effort initiation and throughout the life cycle. Involvement should expand to, but not be limited to, personnel in program management, contracting, engineering, logistics, legal, financial management, cost estimating, and small business. Similar to OTs or any other innovative acquisition approach, PEPs require personnel with sufficient business acumen, sound professional judgment, and expertise with planning, executing, and administering complex acquisition instruments. <h3>Create PEP Guidance and Training.</h3> Successful PEPs require collaboration, confidence, and business competence. Each DoD entity with PEP authority should develop guidance to assist its workforce with PEP-related actions. The guidance should identify key responsibilities and provide best practices for personnel to follow, including warranting contracting officials and PEP planning, execution, administration, and reporting functions. An entity’s PEP approach will provide value to personnel and programs so long as the guidance is consistent with the flexibility provided by the statue and does not hinder innovation or creativity.<br> <br> To communicate and explain the guidance, entities should develop training to educate their personnel who are expected to perform or support PEP-related actions. Among other things, the training could encompass the statute, PEP significance to national defense priorities, the entity’s internal best practices and lessons learned, historical examples of PEP usage and applicability, relationship to other contractual instruments (FAR and non-FAR based), intellectual property and data rights, government property implications, and reporting requirements. This specific PEP training event will benefit personnel and programs because the DoD (including DAU) currently has no PEP training courses available to DoD’s workforce. <h3>Create and Maintain Appropriate Supporting Documentation.</h3> While PEPs are a flexible instrument to assist with certain needs, personnel must still create and maintain appropriate documents to justify and support PEP-related business activities. All DoD entities are responsible for ensuring the effective stewardship of taxpayer resources received and gaining maximum value for every dollar spent on national defense. PEPs are no exception. There are various forms of PEP supporting documentation that personnel should consider, depending upon the individual circumstances, including: need determination or requirements identification, market research or intelligence performed, designated approval authority, contracting or agreements officer, documentation explaining rationale, acquisition strategy, publicizing/soliciting/evaluating actions, schedules, transition plans, cost estimates, funds availability statements, agreement awards/modifications, and legal opinions rendered. Appropriate documentation will provide assurance that an entity’s PEP usage is efficient, effective, compliant, and adequate to prevent improper use of the authority. <h3>Conclusion</h3> As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.” So long as technologies continuously advance and adversaries challenge the United States with new threats, the DoD will unquestionably seek to capitalize on innovation opportunities and advancements to respond to those threats. Experimentation and test activities, as a part of any acquisition effort, remain critical elements of DoD’s priorities, given the current environment. Also, DoD’s future priorities will certainly necessitate experimentation and testing to determine suitability and applicability to the situation at hand. Thus, DoD entities, where appropriate, should maximize PEP usage as another acquisition tool that may provide an appropriate path to providing the War­fighters with the technologies they need. Use the authority, cherish the authority, but certainly do not abuse the authority. <hr />Speciale is a Senior Acquisition Specialist supporting the Department of Defense. He is a Certified Defense Financial Manager–Acquisition (CDFM–A) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Sidebottom is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Contracts Management Office at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Prior to her tenure at DARPA, Sidebottom was the Learning Director for Other Transactions at the Defense Acquisition University and has taught extensively about government contracting as an independent consultant. This article represents the opinions of the authors alone.<br> <br> The authors can be reached at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a> and <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/The-Next-Little-Known-Flexible-Acquisition--Authority
Leadership Perspectives Perspectives2020-11-17T17:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass6552505DC5DA4D5FA6E737D56FA3720D">There are multiple ways and means to create a talented, ethical, and committed workforce. New and known tactics exist, including metacognition and meta-leadership, to attract and build tomorrow’s leaders, improve recruiting and hiring efforts, share knowledge, and manage performance.<br> <br> One other powerful way to attract and build tomorrow’s leaders, improve recruiting and hiring efforts, share knowledge, and manage performance is through perspectives from pupils, peers, or professionals. These two ways to develop individuals on their professional journeys are even better when combined with technological advances.<br> <br> First, there is metacognition or what I call “Meta-cognition, I think;” introduced as a concept by John Flavell in the 1970s–1980s, more specifically his 1979 work “Metacognition and Cognitive Monitoring: A New Area of Cognitive-developmental Inquiry.” defines metacognition as “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.” Hence the society-quip and simpler definitions that metacognition is “thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing.”<br> <br> In practice, I like to think metacognition is something like the fishbone diagram technique where a person continues to ask questions for the sake of gaining multiple perspectives and richer, deeper thoughts about thinking rather than finding a root cause to a problem. Of course, reaching a root cause of a problem can be helpful, too, depending on the purpose of a person’s thinking about thinking. For a brief example, let us say a person answers a riddle with the first response that comes to mind. Regardless of whether the response is correct, let alone plausible, an answer was provided and can be thought about, reviewed, analyzed, and inspected. This is metacognition at work. Thoughts might include: What caused the person to answer? How fast was the answer provided? How did the person arrive at this answer? What experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities influenced the response content? Would the person come up with the same answer under different conditions? Were other responses similar or different? The thoughts keep going, too! Now that you are thinking about thinking, let us look to another idea.<br> <br> Related to metacognition is meta-leadership, also acknowledged as a means to overcome silo thinking. I call this “Meta-leadership, I do.” According to Marcus, Dorn, and Henderson, in “Meta-leadership and National Emergency Preparedness: A Model to Build Government Connectivity” meta-leadership is “overarching leadership that intentionally connects the purposes and work of different organizations or organizational units.” If visualized, meta-leaders are those charismatic, wildly effective individuals traversing organizational lines to garner individual and collective success.<br> <br> Chances are you have seen a meta-leader in person, on television, or from a secondary source touting how influential a leader was that the source knew during their career. In my career, meta-leaders have typically exuded humble confidence, positive influence, slow-to-anger style, and nourished network linkages from every experience the leader can call upon at a moment’s notice.<br> <br> The meta-leader has a difficult-to-describe quality that quickly earns respect and trust whether due to known expertise or acquired acumen. Finally, meta-leaders leave an impression, a lasting mark on their pupils, peers, and other professionals. I mentioned that metacognition and meta-leadership are related because of the observation that meta-leaders seem to have a perspective beyond face-value impressions and simple thought. Instead, meta-leaders peel the layers of the onion back to defy operational, strategic, and tactical silos. Meta-leaders can actively think about thinking and build connections, fulfill purposes, and overcome obstacles. To me, metacognition and meta-leadership are all about transitional perspectives.<br> <br> On this previously shared mention of pupils, peers, and professionals, I offer how maintaining perspective during individual development garners benefits along professional journeys. It is worth noting that each perspective can easily overlap another simultaneously. And no, this is not a midlife crisis jab. Instead, it is a theory of how individuals develop from a vision of being a leader to being that leader. As each of us contributes to our constituents, regardless of the career field, we are pupils, peers, and professionals actively engaging and occupying each role. Striking a respectable balance of breadth and depth through our professional development may be as taxing as an attempt to be in two places simultaneously, but possible.<br> <br> The growth process begins with a majority of our time spent in a “pupil” status, like that of an intern, building each other as peers and eventually achieving the esteemed “professional” status. I liken this progression to being among the most junior in an organization and then reaching some levels of management before attaining a lauded leadership role.<br> <br> There is a saying about the importance of knowing where you’re going and where you came from so you know when you’ve reached the destination. This is how career progression is navigated. With that in mind, “pupil” is one perspective and frame of mind most are familiar with from firsthand experience. I firmly believe in achieving professional depth and breadth by several linked career objectives serving as a catalyst from one to the next. As a financial management intern with the U.S. Air Force (USAF), I ventured into a fascinating and beneficial career with the federal government. Because of my positive experiences, I have remained involved with the intern program since my 2012 graduation.<br> <br> In addition to internship, there are educational and training environments. Each day I actively build upon a growing history of professional military education (PME), on-the-job training (OJT), and other development (created or discovered) endeavors. I am a bit of a self-proclaimed nerd, better phrased as “education advocate,” so it was a wonderful irony to intern with the USAF’s Air Education and Training Command, let alone being stationed at an Air Force base nicknamed “the college of colleges.”<br> <br> Interning at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, the home of Air University, permitted me a range of “cherries” to add to the abundance of flavors and varieties of “development ice cream.” Whether in a formal academic setting or as an intern, I wore my “pupil” hat to arrive at a slogan I apply generously: “Any declination of an opportunity to learn is an example of stupidity.” From another point of view, “Why would anyone decline an opportunity to learn?!” While we should never completely abandon any of the phases of our journeys, it is important to remain aware and take advantage of all options to expand knowledge and development before moving forward. At the time of transition, a pupil increasingly will occupy a role of peer and professional.<br> <br> As a “peer,” one starts to peer over the horizon in some ways. During the transition of deemphasizing a “pupil” status and increasing the “peer” and “professional” statuses, individuals seem to progress by building networks across the globe, conducting groundbreaking research, exploring professional publication, and professionally practicing as a contributing, informal educator and mentor within the field.<br> <br> As an example of the “peer” status, consider a handful of brilliant individuals early in their technology-based careers like Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. It is likely that a developing person will take on previously unthinkable challenges accompanied by a step outside of their comfort zone like a taste of the private sector, higher education, supervisory positions, or career broadening in a field vastly different from the familiar. The latter two challenges are often encouraged for federal interns because of the seemingly required experience leaders possess and the structure inherent with most career-broadening assignments. Both offer opportunities to develop, expand knowledge, and gain hands-on experience, though much more is obtained in hindsight.<br> <br> At present, I am interested in a range of opportunities best suited for peers and professionals, including Civilian Expeditionary Workforce experiences (i.e., deploying overseas as a civilian) and venturing to positions outside of my general schedule Financial Administration and Program Series. Personal and professional lives meld, giving way to opportunities for future leaders to be informal and formal educators, advanced professionals, and developers with a cohort of global peers. In any endeavor, individuals’ peer and professional choices seem based on the best interests of breadth and depth to become the best leader possible for pupils. So what’s next, now?<br> <br> Thus far we have discovered how to be in two places and fulfill two roles simultaneously as the earlier mentioned examples balanced the progress of “pupil” and “peer.” Let us now journey to the career’s ultimate promised land for many. The emphasis shifts toward the status of “peer-professional.”<br> <br> As stated before, we should never become too haughty and thereby abandon one status or another since life is an experimental journey of absorbing, retaining, practicing, and sharing. Each is an activity engaged in regardless of the status one claims predominantly to occupy.<br> <br> The famous John Kotter observed, especially in his book, Leading Change, that for many leaders, the idea is to “outgrow” the competition through lifelong learning and have the drive to do so. The pinnacle of a career, where we are most prepared and knowledgeable, is the time to fulfill what I view as a joyous obligation to return the priceless gifts we have received. As individuals develop through nurture and nature, it is time to shift a large percentage of our efforts toward developing those we lead. This may be accomplished by mentorship, creating opportunities, formal instruction, or avenues utilized by students like those mentioned earlier.<br> <br> If you are not inspired to give back once you attain the status associated with a “professional,” I offer my own experience. During college, as a pupil and peer, I gained an abundance of knowledge from some of the most admirable individuals I have met in life. My respect for my educational leaders and what each offered every day has proved to be perpetual. Though I now work in a different career field, I am still amazed when I reflect on my first experience with a college-level instructor. This instructor’s lecturing abilities, humble mentality, and inspiring approach effortlessly commanded the room of rambunctious dual-enrolled high-school and college students. What most exuded from this instructor was a passionate interest in the field of study. The instructor did not want students to stop at knowing enough to pass tests; the goal was to build a lasting thirst for knowing and learning about the world in relation to the future population’s power to modify it. I cannot speak for all of my classmates, but I do speak for myself and those I remain in contact with when I say that this instructor excelled, and many of the instructor’s traits are characteristic of the world’s best and brightest leaders: meta-leaders.<br> <br> As many agree, there are multiple ways and means to improve skills and mentor leaders. I have shared just a few ways: metacognition and traversing perspectives— whether one is a pupil, peer, or professional. These two ways to develop in our professional journeys are emerging trends that offer great benefits. Each of us is capable of occupying the statuses separately or in combination through our developmental efforts of absorbing, retaining, practicing, and sharing. Our only limitation to embodying more than one status is the mindset we adopt while balancing the goal of achieving breadth and depth as we dabble among the trio on our journey. Through metacognition and different perspectives, meta-leaders develop. <hr />Miller is a Financial Manager for the Defense Health Agency in Virginia. She previously supported the Air Force, Army, and National Guard Bureau at locations along the East Coast. She is a Certified Government Financial Manager and member of the Association of Government Accountants’ Northern Virginia chapter and of the American Society of Military Comptroller’s Washington Chapter, and a Certified Defense Financial Manager with acquisition specialty. She received her Doctorate of Business Administration from Walden University’s College of Management and Technology. The views expressed are the author’s own.<br> <br> The author can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a>.</div>string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Leadership-Perspectives



Strategic Thinking: A Key Skill Managers Should Acquire Thinking: A Key Skill Managers Should Acquire2020-10-13T12:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClassF5C0787A42B6408D9D003C23152E97CE"><a href="">Strategic thinking</a> takes many forms and highlights one’s intellectual prowess in many ways. Strategic thinkers realize that making a decision is not about themselves. There will be challenges and setbacks in business decisions, and it takes a collective perspective to reach a holistic determination. For example, strategic thinkers rarely make unilateral decisions, but rather utilize expertise from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.<br> <br> Asking employees and other managers for their perspectives means being open to valuable viewpoints from multiple sources. Most managers will agree that the easy path is to make unilateral decisions, given one’s position and seniority. But a better tactic for making long-lasting strategic decisions leverage one’s abilities, skillset, education and interpersonal skills to reach an organizational goal.<br> <br> Strategic thinkers use all the tools in their toolbox to gain buy-in from others in the organization. Gaining buy-in means using both logic and emotion, as well as not being timid about thinking outside the box. They constantly question the implications of both new ideas and older, more familiar ideas. Strategic thinkers, unlike tactical thinkers, are forward-thinking and consider the impact of business decisions not just for the here and now, but also for future generations.<br> <br> Management leaders seek advance degrees in order to gain additional knowledge and skills that can optimize organizational effectiveness and drive positive business results. To support this need, our university offers a quality management degree program entirely online. <br> Whether you're interested in the precision of transportation and logistics logic discipline, sport sciences, human resource management, entrepreneurship, or executive leadership - <a href="">American Military University's management online degrees</a> are designed to empower you with traditional and innovative management competencies.<br></div>string;#/partnerships/blog/Strategic-Thinking-A-Key-Skill-Managers-Should-Acquire
Upcoming No Cost Virtual Learning Opportunities from our Higher Education Partners! No Cost Virtual Learning Opportunities from our Higher Education Partners!2020-09-02T16:00:00Z banner 2.png, banner 2.png banner 2.png<div class="ExternalClassE01C113C88C54B7199CE88069A9F6236"><h5 style="text-align:center;"><strong>DAU's Strategic Partners are offering free e-learning opportunities and resources to the workforce! The list below is updated as information is received, so check back often for updates.</strong></h5> <address style="text-align:center;">If you are a partner school and wish to be included on this list, contact us at <a class="ak-cke-href" href=""></a> <hr /> <address><img alt="" src="/partnerships/PublishingImages/Excelsior%20College%20Logo.jpg" style="float:left;width:200px;height:200px;margin:1px;" /> <address><a href=""><strong>Webinar: Veterans Benefits</strong></a><br> If you’d like to learn how to maximize your veteran educational benefits and learn about opportunities offered through veteran membership organizations, attend our upcoming webinar and discover why Excelsior College is continually recognized for serving Veteran and Military students.<br> During this webinar, you will discover how to use your benefits to achieve your educational and career goals. You’ll also hear Excelsior College’s Center for Military and Veteran Education about career/networking opportunities just for veterans, and how your military experience can be applied as credit so you can complete your degree sooner and take your career to the next level.</address> <address><strong>Date:</strong> October 29, 2020<br> <strong>Time: </strong>12:30-1 p.m. (EDT)<br> Please <a href="">register today</a> and Zoom information will be provided</address> <address><br> <a href=""><b>Transfer Credit Made Easy: Excelsior College Information Session</b></a><br> Join us while we hear from Jeffrey Baez, chief information security officer for the New York State Board of Elections and director of the secure election center, on how his cybersecurity plan is addressing the cyber risks to ensure we have the most secure election data collection possible.</address> </address> <address> <address><br> <strong>Date:</strong> November 4, 2020<br> <strong>Time: </strong>3-4 p.m. (EDT)</address> <address>To register and more details, visit: <a href=""></a> <address style="text-align:center;"> <address> </address> </address> <address style="text-align:center;"> <hr /></address> <br> <img alt="" src="/partnerships/PublishingImages/UCLA%20Extension%20Logo%20(2020).jpg" style="float:left;width:300px;margin:2px 4px;height:61px;" /> <p style="text-align:left;">We recognize the challenges our communities are facing today. We want to help light the way forward and give back by offering professional development and personal enrichment seminars this summer at no cost. These programs give you the opportunity to learn from experts in their field and connect with others. For your convenience and safety, all programs are offered remotely. Visit <a href=""></a> for more information.<br> </p> </address> </address> </address> <address style="text-align:center;"> <hr /></address> <br> <img alt="" src="/partnerships/PublishingImages/Bellevue_University.png" style="float:left;width:238px;height:45px;margin:2px 4px;" /> In the <a href="">Resolution 2021: Take Charge of Change series</a>, world-renowned keynote speaker Ryan Avery will present webinars on strategic communication and leadership. View our additional Career resources available on-demand here: <a href=""></a> <div style="text-align:center;"> </div> <address style="text-align:center;"> <address> <address> </address> </address> <hr /></address> <address><img alt="" src="/partnerships/PublishingImages/APU_Stacked_NoSlogan.jpg" style="float:left;width:200px;height:83px;margin:1px;" /><strong>(New!) Lunch-And-Learn: Supporting Your Goals through Education at American Public University </strong><br> AMU offers 200+ programs to align with your unique professional development goals whether you work in contracting, information technology, cybersecurity, logistics, or other DoD career fields. Many of our undergraduate and master’s-level degrees and certifications are taught by highly-credentialed experts with government agency leadership experience.<br> Mark your calendar to join university representatives as we discuss online learning, career services, the tuition grant, no-cost ebooks, and answer your questions.</address> <address style="text-align:center;"><br> <strong>Date:</strong> Tuesday, September 29, 2020<br> <strong>Time: </strong>Noon, Eastern<br> Please <a href="">register today</a> and Zoom information will be provided.</address> <address style="text-align:center;"> <hr /></address> <hr /></div>string;#/partnerships/blog/Upcoming-No-Cost-Virtual-Learning-Opportunities-from-our-Higher-Education-Partners!



DLA Category Management Initiativesstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/Defense-Logistics-Agency-DLA-Category-Management-InitiativesDLA Category Management Initiatives2020-11-27T17:00:00ZBill Kobrenstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/Defense-Logistics-Agency-DLA-Category-Management-Initiatives
November 2020 CRS Reports of Potential Interest (Part 2)string;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/November-2020-CRS-Reports-of-Potential-Interest-Part-2November 2020 CRS Reports of Potential Interest (Part 2)2020-11-27T12:00:00ZBill Kobrenstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/November-2020-CRS-Reports-of-Potential-Interest-Part-2
DSIAC Maintenance Manual Modernization Webinarstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/DSIAC-Maintenance-Manual-Modernization-WebinarDSIAC Maintenance Manual Modernization Webinar2020-11-25T17:00:00ZBill Kobrenstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/DSIAC-Maintenance-Manual-Modernization-Webinar
Reset vs. Retrograde: A Study in Contrastsstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/Reset-vs-Retrograde-A-Study-in-ContrastsReset vs. Retrograde: A Study in Contrasts2020-11-25T17:00:00ZBill Kobrenstring;#/training/career-development/logistics/blog/Reset-vs-Retrograde-A-Study-in-Contrasts



SBIR Online Workshop Dec 2020 Online Workshop Dec 20202020-12-01T18:00:00Zstring;#/events/SBIR-Online-Workshop-Dec-2020
Leading Acquisition: Growing Your Network Acquisition: Growing Your Network2020-12-02T17:30:00Zstring;#/events/Leading Acquisition Series 2
Barriers to Entry Roundtable Discussion to Entry Roundtable Discussion2020-12-07T18:00:00Zstring;#/events/Barriers-to-Entry-Roundtable-Discussion
Sustainment Series: How Many Rubber Gloves Do You Actually Have? Series: How Many Rubber Gloves Do You Actually Have?2020-12-08T16:00:00Zstring;#/events/Sustainment Series How Many Rubber Gloves Do You Actually Have
Sustainment Series: The Challenges to Our Organic Industrial Base Mosaic Series: The Challenges to Our Organic Industrial Base Mosaic2020-12-08T18:00:00Zstring;#/events/Sustainment Series The Challenges to Our Organic Industrial Base Mosaic
COR Cafe December 2020 Cafe December 20202020-12-09T18:00:00Zstring;#/events/COR-Cafe-Dec-2020