Picture it: years of careful planning and meticulous strategizing to resolve an issue and improve it for future warfighters. Then imagine finally being ready to present your program acquisition strategy to the Service Acquisition Executive (SAE) for approval at Milestone B, only to be told to return with a new plan of action.
Such is the case with the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), a story they revealed at the DAU Alumni Association Acquisition Symposium on April 3, 2019. After briefing their acquisition strategy to Dr. William Roper, the U.S. Air Force Service Acquisition Executive, at Milestone B, which included plans for moving to a virtual system prototype to deliver residual operation capability, members of the CERP program found themselves at a red light. Dr. Roper then challenged the group to consider leveraging Section 804 authorities to plan the program with a Middle Tier of Acquisition strategy.
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Reflecting on how they overcame the hurdle, Abby Pogorzelski, CERP Program Manager, revealed they had to “develop our strategy from the bottom up.” To add to their already strenuous task, the group had only one night to “ensure we were following the intent of the law.”
In the end, all their efforts to save money while also providing new engines for the B-52 paid off. Pogorzelski added that the team learned to “take smart risks,” but did so under the guidelines of Section 804. This victory resulted in schedule and cost reduction, reduction of non-value added documentation, early virtual prototypes and the ability to release RFPs in milestones.
The shortened production time does not mean CERP is taking any shortcuts, Test Manager Bridget Durham, made sure to clarify. “We intend to run a full flight test program,” she stated, following up with the assurance that the program has “no intent of reducing rigor in our test program whatsoever.”
The team further elaborated that rigor is crucial in maintaining thorough documentation, which in turn provides CERP the means of rapid prototyping and rapid fielding. In other words, the ability to provide the best quality of B-52 engines without sacrificing production time.
“We owe it to the warfighter to get then the best they can possibly have,” agreed Michael Bredehoeft, Deputy Program Manager.
When asked if she had any advice to share for teams collaborating on new projects, Pogorzelski offered, “Think outside the box, engage stakeholders, bring all the right folks to the table and try to come up with something new and innovative.”
[RELATED CONTENT: 2019 DAU Acquisition Training Symposium Video]
[RELATED CONTENT: CERP slide deck from the 2019 DAU Acquisition Training Symposium]
[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Podcast with the CERP leadership team on getting started and leveraging Middle Tier Acquisition]
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