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/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example-Kessel-RunWorkneh78/10/2022 9:03 PM

The Kessel Run Experimentation Lab is not your typical DoD program - it's not located on a military installation, you won't see anyone wearing a suit and it's driven by an almost frenetic need to innovate. It's leaders wouldn't have it any other way.

Although the U.S. Air Force program is only a few years old, it is already shaking up how Service does things like create software and purchase information technology capabilities. It's non-standard approach is designed to do two things, speed up the acquisition process and turn the Air Force into a software company that happens to fly planes.

The imperative for change and the need to innovate is palpable. "Traditional acquisition and software development can't keep up with the rate of change or challenges from our enemies," said deputy director U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders during an interview with the Defense Acquisition University. "We just can't keep up."

To overcome these challenges, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Kevin Kennedy mentioned in an interview with FedScoop that brings three skills into the conversation, " operator in that conversation who understands how to do software development, understands that it has some level of efficiency. I need an acquirer, someone from the acquisition community who understands how do we field these types of capabilities but also has some proficiency in it. And then I need a coder. That’s the ninja person who really knows how to do it quickly and can leverage those talents.”

In the ribbon cutting ceremony for the lab's new facility, Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, the Air Force’s director of information technology acquisition process development, called attention to just how different this organization is. “It’s one thing to say you’re going to do business differently, but look around and you can see that these airmen are learning. They’re building actual products, and they’re writing the book on how to be combat engineers for the information age,” she said.

Using this approach, Kessel Run has already been able to reduce the labor required to plan its missions and saves $750,000 to $1 million weekly.

Learn more in this video interview with Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders.

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Video: The Agile Imperative with Lt. Col. Jeremiah Sanders
Article: Kessel Run Lab Hits Hyperdrive
Article: Air Force's New Software Lab in Boston Aims for High Speed
Article: Air Force's Kessel Run has admirers elsewhere in the military

Keywords: best practices, lessons learned

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

2/27/2019DAU Powerful Example Library
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example-USSOCOMWorkneh98/10/2022 9:03 PM

Col. Donald Wols, J4, Director of Logistics at the United States Special Operations Command and Major Chris Baldwin of The J4 Logistics Integration Division share their success in rapidly developing a new tool for logistics and materiel solutions that will super-enable operators to support the "pointy end of the spear" in global Special Forces operations. Watch the short video or the podcast below to hear their story of how they developed truly innovative logisitics capabilities using analogies to Expedia and other tools to plan and deliver logistics support to their customers. Hear how they engaged key stakeholders and overcame funding and data sharing challenges to make things happen under a short timelines for a demanding customer.




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DAU Powerful Examples Home

Keywords: best practices, lessons learned

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

5/6/2019DAU Powerful Examples Library
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--JRAC-helps-Warfighters-overcome-urgent-threat-from-enemy-dronesWorkneh108/10/2022 9:03 PM
Rapidly responding to enemy threats against U.S. Service members requires an agile acquisition system and the active collaboration of many parties in order to succeed. Making all of these pieces work together to provide timely solutions, while respecting the U.S. taxpayer, can be a challenging task. By carefully following the five phase approach for Joint Urgent Operational Needs (JUONs), the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell was able to quickly deliver critical, anti-drone capabilities to deployed Warfighters.

The phased approach for JUONs exists to quickly meet Warfighter requirements while respecting costs to the taxpayer and statutory limitations. It can be broken down into: (click each link above for detailed video segment examining how the Joint Rapid Acquisition Center worked through each phase of the process)
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For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples
8/6/2019DAU Powerful Examples Team
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example---Navy-uses-data-analytics-to-overcome-fleet-readiness-challengesWorkneh118/10/2022 9:03 PM

“Non-mission capable.”

Not the phrase a Navy admiral wants to hear about his essential aircraft.

Time is critical when F/A-18 Super Hornet jets scramble for take-off. These carrier-based strike fighters, deploy on missions that range from power projection and forward deterrence to maritime security.

In his gut, Rear Admiral Jeffrey J. “Caesar” Czerewko knew too many non-mission capable aircraft took up precious space on flight decks. Non-mission capable is a readiness status that means an aircraft cannot execute its mission, and a carrier without mission-ready aircraft throws a wrench into naval aviation’s man-equip-train mandate. Now, Czerewko just needed the data to prove his theory.

Working with Dr. Adi Zolotov of CNA, Czerewko sought a solution that involved partnering his maintenance operators with CNA’s technical analysts to identify critical processes, then “iterate rapidly and continually” to improve maintenance.

“I was asking for something different than CNA would normally give us, which was a product and interim reporting,” said Czerewko.

In 2018, their efforts led to the genesis of the Force Readiness Analytics Group, or FRAG—naval aviation’s first office of data science. FRAG is forging a data analytics transformation in naval aviation, and accelerating a cultural change towards treating data as an asset to drive decision-making. The effort directly aligned with the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the Navy’s Business Operations Strategy, Agility and Accountability (FY 2019–2021).

Naval officers Lt. Cdr. Sean “Butterbean” Blackman and Cmdr. Jarrod “JROD” Groves were founding members of FRAG. At the start, their team spent months digging through data, assessing how to use that data to predict outcomes and inform decisions of senior leaders. To do so, they needed to alter the data environment to be more proactive and less reactive.

Blackman noted, “We didn’t have the right people with the right information able to act with good decisions and inform decision-makers with enough speed to really make sure that our hierarchies were protected and that we were able to be the most lethal force capable.”

They tackled the admiral’s request to be graded on mission capable readiness and flight hour execution. The group then hypothesized that the agile analytic data environment would need to identify levers of influence affecting readiness numbers.

Teams of operators and analysts worked together to employ machine learning--the science of causing computers to act without being explicitly programmed--and predictive advanced analytics--methods and tools that project future trends. They uncovered trends in maintenance shortfalls.

On their first, live prediction run, FRAG identified two squadrons that might struggle to meet readiness goals for the next quarter. They presented their predictions to Czerewko. Amazingly, FRAG’s forecasts about the two squadrons matched anecdotal inputs (hundreds of emails) that Czerewko had been receiving about the same two squadrons. The data provided an independent confirmation of his hunch. He was ready to act and directed squadron leaders to review manpower with a focus on positions that would improve the quality of maintenance. The result: fewer non-mission capable aircraft, precisely Czerewko’s intent.

As they continued to iterate with the massive amounts of data, FRAG moved from debating the validity of the data to debating solutions. In one situation, FRAG learned that customers needed visibility and transparency. Groves recalled that the “Air Boss” wanted to see his report card of readiness numbers on a weekly basis. FRAG created an online visualization process, capable of showing the status of all naval aviation on a daily basis.

As she coached FRAG, Dr. Zolotov assisted the commander in recognizing the “infinite opportunity in the space of data and analytics.”

Czerewko agreed and added that teaming maintenance operators with technical analysts allowed FRAG to bring “operational relevance” to the fleet as they continue to refine support to CNAF readiness levels.

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Image: ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 18, 2008) An FA-18C Hornet, assigned to the "Valions" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 15, prepares to land aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are conducting tailored ship's training availability and final evaluation problem (TSTA/FEP). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Mason

Key words: Defense Acquisition, Data Analytics, Lessons Learned, Best Practices, Navy, Naval Aviation, Data Literacy
10/31/2019Beth Johnson, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--B-52-Commercial-Engine-Replacement-Program---Breaking-Down-Silos-to-"Go-Faster-with-Rigor"Workneh128/10/2022 9:03 PM

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.

Click here to view a full-screen version of the video

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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7/23/2019DAU Powerful Example Library
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example---Army-achieves-product-support-success-with-Man-Transportable-Robotic-SystemWorkneh138/10/2022 9:03 PM
“Right now, the way we, as an Army, present information to soldiers is based on 1950s technology. That, in and of itself, is somewhat challenging.”

A familiar obstacle for anyone who’s ever worked for government. This was the challenge presented to Ki Knowlin, Product Support Manager and Director of Logistics for the Project Manager Force Projection, when he was tapped to update the technical manuals (TMs) for one the U.S. Army’s most valuable assets: the Man Transportable Robotic System (MTRS) program.

“We’ve got to change the way we’re approaching this,” Knowlin said in an episode of the DAU Podcast, referring to the government’s staggered efforts in staying current with the world’s ever-evolving technology.

The MTRS is a great example of the technological advancements the Department of Defense uses every day. Resembling a battle-ready cousin of Johnny 5, it is a remotely operated, medium-sized robotic system capable of detecting and disposing of hazards. Unfortunately, learning how to use this advanced tech proved to be an endeavor far beyond the limitations of basic, paper-bound training manuals.

“Today’s soldiers—they don’t learn the way we [previous generations] learned,” Knowlin said.

Knowlin noticed that the internet has a great deal of content on YouTube and Robot Garage that focuses on the development of modern robotics and considered them as resources he could use to supplement training. However, because these outside resources didn’t align with the Army’s overall vision, he decided he would have to create his own.

“We’ve taken this opportunity with the robotic portfolio to help pull the Army forward into what’s available for current technology and how we approach repairing systems,” Knowlin said. “Multimedia allows us to shorten the acquisition cycle and it also allows us to get a better product at a cheaper price. Multimedia allows us to put something in the hands of a soldier that looks more intuitive to what they would see if they were to go online themselves and figure out how to fix something.”

By converting the MTRS technical manuals into a multimedia format, Soldiers received a modern, innovative product that completely changes the way they interact with their equipment. Now, rather than having to rely on a paper manual that does not account for real-time changes or situations, Soldiers are essentially learning everything they need to know about the equipment from an app, which offers videos, 3D images, line art and animations that are regularly updated to suit their requirements -- all in a shorter amount of time and at a lower cost.

“The way you’re training is the way you’re going to operate when you get to the platform,” Knowlin explained.

Knowlin’s innovative solution saved the MTRS program a staggering $600,000. As an added bonus, Knowlin found multimedia exponentially easier to produce, with not nearly as many rules and regulations to weigh down the acquisition process.

Knowlin said that, in order to implement a change of this magnitude, it was critical that he understand change management and stakeholder requirements.
“Have someone to help you think through your challenges,” he said. “There is a safety in the multitude of counsel.”

Knowlin’s executive coach was an invaluable resource to this epiphany.

“Out of necessity, I leveraged my process in the executive coaching program to figure out how do we get the systems in hands of the soldiers faster that were supportable,” Knowlin said.

Through DAU’s LOG 465 course, product support managers like Knowlin receive executive coaching and share best practices that can help them in their roles. In this course, students are able to pick key areas they would like to improve upon for their portfolio. For Knowlin, one of those key areas happened to be technical manual development, a big win both for his portfolio and for the Army.
[RELATED CONTENT: Audio interview with the MTRS program team]
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[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Executive Coaching Program Information]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: MTRS, Training, Lessons Learned, Best Practices, Sustainment
1/15/2020Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Air-Force-uses-data-driven-decision-making-to-improve-enterprise-sourcingWorkneh148/10/2022 9:03 PM
Air Force Installation Contracting Agency’s (AFICA) use of a structured data driven methodology called Enterprise Sourcing is highlighted in this excellent short five minute video in the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) media library. Enterprise Sourcing is the application of sound business analytic practices, strategic sourcing and category management processes, and business acumen by operational acquisition units. Its purpose is to reduce costs and improve mission effectiveness, with the goal to be effective stewards of taxpayer resources and gain full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense.

The Fire and Emergency Services Personal Protective Equipment, also known as FES PPE, is the enterprise solution that provides firefighting gear to the Air Force firefighter. Our mission partner, the Air Force Civil Engineering Center (AFCEC), levied requirements to save money on overall procurements, provide increased safety standards, and streamline the acquisition time it takes to order and receive Fire PPE. As a byproduct of this enterprise sourcing effort, we baselined the safety standards of the gear that is utilized by all firefighting personnel within the United States Air Force ensuring our firefighters had the right gear to safely do their mission.

To execute an Enterprise Sourcing effort a multi-functional team uses the strategic sourcing 7-Step Wheel process that is a tailored version of the Services Acquisition Model taught at DAU. Following this deliberate process provided insight into how USAF fire departments were currently procuring fire equipment, at what rate, and the overall spend they were allocating towards their purchases. After analyzing the data and historical spend patterns, the team proceeded to gather market intelligence. Through much collaboration, the overall configuration for the collective US Air Force firefighter was determined based upon specification and the gathered market intelligence. To emphasize the benefits of enterprise sourcing in acquisition, the FES PPE program reduced the number of contracts by 35%, the CLIN structure by 87%, and the number of vendors by 86%. These actions resulted in $1.1M dollars of total savings in FY18; without enterprise sourcing, this would not have been possible! Through critical thinking and innovative solutions, excess funds can be redistributed to other vital warfighting capabilities that ultimately keep our nation safe.

For additional information regarding the Fire Personal Protective Equipment program, the Program Manager, BJ Miller, can be reached at Enterprise Sourcing questions can be addressed to AFICA’s Director of Enterprise Sourcing Support, Roger Westermeyer at
12/13/2018BJ Miller, AFICA
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--C130J-Program-and-the-Sole-Source-Streamlining-Toolbox-Workneh158/10/2022 9:03 PM

The Air Force’s C-130J, Super Hercules, Production & Development Program knows a thing or two about patience. When it comes to securing contracts and acquiring block upgrade kits, former Team Leader, Nathan Shrider, had plenty of experience to share. Shrider recalled a time when his team was tasked with acquiring block 8.1 upgrade kits in low-rate initial production in Lot 2.

“In the past, with Lot 1, it took nearly two years to get on contract, which was incredibly too long,” Shrider said.

He revealed that the biggest challenge his team faced was advancing from RFP (Request for Proposal) to contract award within 270 days.

“There’s typically a 60-90 day delay in their ability to create their proposal just due to solidifying those agreements,” Shrider explained. “This is one area that we recognized as an opportunity to be better at in our next acquisition.”

​By using techniques available from DoD’s Sole Source Streamlining (SSS) Toolbox, such as implementing a memorandum of understanding between the government and contractor, Shrider and his team were able to streamline roles and responsibilities on both ends and cut this time-consuming process in half. Part of this victory entailed establishing early engagement with the Defense Contract Auditing Agency (DCAA) and connecting them with Supply Chain management within the contractor’s proposal team. This, Shrider said, reduced the proposal audit time from DCAA from 95 days to 45 days.

“When my team ventured off to try to reduce the procurement acquisition lead time down to 270 days, the biggest challenge was how we were going to get there through our internal gates,” Shrider said.

The team laid out a joint-integrated master schedule (IMS) with the contractor to quickly identify areas of opportunity. This schedule allowed for the C-130J team and the contractor to compare their internal processes prior to proposal submittal and define a timeline that accounted for both parties’ requirements.

“This joint IMS between both parties held both parties accountable and kept us on track throughout the acquisition process,” said Shrider.

It was important for the team to reflect on lessons gained from previous acquisitions. This helped the team identify past issues and in turn focus on overcoming issues they were facing with this current contract.

“Success for this program was reducing lead acquisition time from two years to 270 days,” Shrider shared. “Communication and transparency are paramount to having the same set of goals to get to the end result together.”

[RELATED CONTENT: Sole Source Selection Toolbox]

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For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples

Banner Image: A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron taxies along a runway June 26, 2019, in East Africa. The 75 EAS supports Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa with medical evacuations, disaster relief, humanitarian and air drop operations. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes.
11/14/2019Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Army-starts-using-augmented-reality-to-help-maintain-weaponsWorkneh168/10/2022 9:03 PM

When you think about the phrase “augmented reality,” perhaps you think of video games or science fiction movies. It’s a concept straight out of the future, but at the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Armament Center at Picatinny Arsenal, the future is now. Through the use of augmented reality assisted weapons, Army and Marine Corps programs hope to provide soldiers a new way of maintaining weapon systems.

“The use of augmented reality is going to enhance those products providing visual integration with a tactical system instead of having to go and reference separate system computer screens,” Joshua Zawislak, Project Lead of the CCDC Virtual Test & Training Environments, explained.

In learning to use this incredible technology for their acquisition research project, Zawislak’s team selected the M777A2 Howitzer. This particular weapons system was chosen for the project because models had already been developed for it in a 3D virtual trainer.

“Currently, complex weapon systems are maintained with paper manuals or digitized PDF manuals on a computer that are still on a screen,” Zawislak explained. “Some of the challenges with keeping these weapon systems up-to-date is maintaining information about different variants.”

This augmented reality technology, which has been fashioned into a pair of futuristic-looking glasses that the user can wear on-the-go, is expected to drastically improve the productivity of military operations. It is also intended to substantially decrease the associated risks that come with being in a war zone.

“Using augmented reality headsets, the user can have information provided through module windows, or highlighting of objects with text overlays, all through visual simulation,” Zawislak said.

Through various gestures, such as a pinching motion, users can select specific areas on a virtual schematic and highlight objects needing maintenance. Augmented reality technology also provides detailed videos and images associated with the object, along with a step-by-step diagram on how to complete the necessary functions, giving the user the ability to interact virtually with a component before working on it.

This concept of “augmented data” was largely inspired by BMW, Zawislak admitted. He spoke of BMW’s process for replacing a fan belt, and how the manufacturer’s use of this technology helped pave the way for maintenance on military equipment. Augmented reality technology has proven to be an instrumental tool in training new hands, as it allows users to fully map the repair process before actually dismantling any complicated equipment.

“The next step moving forward is looking at enhancing our requirements and developing a solid concept of operations for use of augmented reality for maintenance,” Zawislak stated.

System maintenance is not the only function this powerful tool is capable of, though. In the field, the headsets, using augmented reality technology, allow soldiers to view virtual maps and receive warnings of potential hazards in the area.

“We are looking to apply [the use of this emerging technology] to reduce the time of a repair, meaning that soldiers can have their systems available more in the field, keeping lethality at the maximum.”

[RELATED CONTENT: Powerful Examples Homepage]

[RELATED CONTENT: Extended audio interview with the CCDC team on the uses of augmented reality]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples, Augmented Reality, Army, Virtual Reality

Banner Image: A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, tries on an argumented reality headset April 18, 2019. During a meeting, Airmen were introduced to the possibility of using augmented reality for training and maintainence work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)
11/14/2019Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example---A-Day-In-the-Life-of-the-Kessel-Run-Software-Factorysparks123403178/10/2022 9:03 PM

The Kessel Run team gives us a glimpse of what life is like in a modern software development organization in DoD. Successful change management, and modern software practices such as DevSecOps and Extreme Programming, are critical capabilities that enable Kessel Run to continuously deliver value to the Warfighter.

Kessel Run team members (e.g., special projects director, release engineer, product manager, lab director, engineering practice lead, software engineer) discuss their culture, work environment and software practices such as pair programming, test driven development, and CI/CD through their software pipeline.

High performing software companies and industrial software factories have to release new code to the market at break-neck pace (within minutes or hours) just to maintain their competitive advantage. Kessel Run has been recognized for helping DoD move closer to achieving the Under Secretary of Defense’s goal to catch up to private sector software delivery performance. Kessel Run transformed a legacy system program that did not deliver capability for nearly a decade, into a modern organization that delivers war-winning capabilities to the fight every 12 hours. This involved scaling change and growing from a 20-person experiment -- to an organization of over 700 people that has inspired change across DoD. The efforts of the Kessel Run team, past and present, were recognized with new 2019 Software Innovation Team Award from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and the General Larry O. Spencer Innovation Award from Air Force Chief of Staff.

[RELATED CONTENT: Powerful Examples Homepage]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples
12/9/2019Sean Brady, DAU Software Acquisition Learning Director
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Implementing-Continuous-Delivery-the-JIDO-Waysparks123403188/10/2022 9:03 PM
One theme that emerges from the work in this study is that DoD certainly does have successes in terms of modern, continuous delivery of software capability; however, in too many cases, these successes are driven by heroic personalities and not supported by the surrounding acquisition ecosystem. In fact, in several cases the demands of the rest of the ecosystem cause friction that, at best, adds unnecessary overhead to the process and slows the delivery of capability. The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), within the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, is a compelling example.

JIDO describes itself as “the DoD’s agile response mechanism, a Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) as a Service providing timely near-term solutions to the improvised threats endangering U.S. military personnel around the world.”11 As such, the speed of delivery is a key success criterion, and JIDO has made important improvements in this domain. Central to accomplishing these successes has been the adoption of a DevSecOps solution along with a continuous ATO process, which exploits the automation provided by DevSecOps to quickly assess security issues.

At least as important as the tooling are the tight connections that JIDO has enabled among the stakeholder groups that have to work together with speed to deliver capability. JIDO has
personnel embedded in the user communities associated with different COCOMs, referred to as Capability Data Integrators (CDIs). These personnel are required to be familiar with the domain, familiar with the technology, and forward-leaning in terms of envisioning technical solutions to help warfighter operations. Almost all CDIs have prior military experience and are deployed in the field, moving from one group of users to another, helping to train them on the tools that are available, and at the same time understanding what they still need. CDIs have tight reachback to JIDO and are able to identify important available data that can be leveraged by software functionality and can be developed with speed through the DevSecOps pipeline.

JIDO has also focused on knocking down barriers among contractors and government personnel. JIDO finds value in relying on contractor labor that can flex and adapt as needed to the technical work, with effort spent on making sure that the mix of government personnel and multiple contractor organizations can work together as a truly integrated team. To accomplish this, JIDO has created an environment with a great deal of trust between government and contractors. There are responsibilities that are inherently governmental and tasks that can be delegated to the contractor. Finding the right mix requires experimentation, especially since finding the personnel with the right skillset on the government side is difficult.

Despite these successes at bringing together stakeholders within the JIDO team, stakeholders in the program management office (PMO) sometimes describe substantial difficulties in working with the rest of the acquisition ecosystem, since on many dimensions the Agile/DevSecOps approach does not work well with business as usual. For example, they describe instances where the Services or the Joint Chiefs push back on solutions that were created to address requirements from the field. Thanks to the CDIs, JIDO can create a technical solution that answers identified requirements from warfighters in the field, but that does not mean it will get approval for deployment. There is a mismatch and potential for miscommunication when the organizations that control deployment don’t own the requirements themselves.

Also, because JIDO operates in an agile paradigm in which requirements can emerge and get reprioritized, it is difficult for the organization to justify budget requests upfront in the way that their command chain requires. JIDO addresses this today by creating notional, detailed mappings of functionality to release milestones. Since a basic principle of the approach is that capabilities being developed can be modified or re-prioritized with input from the warfighter, this predictive approach provides little or no value to the JIDO teams themselves. Even though JIDO refuses to map functionality in this way more than 2 years out, given that user needs can change significantly in that time, the program has had to add headcount just to pull these reports together.

JIDO has no problem showing value for the money spent. It is able to show numbers of users and, because it has personnel embedded with user communities, can discuss operational impact. As mentioned above, JIDO’s primary performance metric is “response from the theater.” Currently, JIDO faces a backlog of tasks representing additional demand for more of its services, as well as a demand for more CDIs. Despite these impactful successes, the surrounding ecosystem unfortunately provides little in the way of support and much that hinders the core mission. It is difficult to see how these practices can be replicated in other environments where they can provide positive impact, until these organizational mismatches can be resolved.
[RELATED CONTENT: Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Defense Innovation Board Software Acquisition and Practices Study]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example - send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Banner Image: Sgt. First Class Jesse Cody and Staff Sgt. Sean Robertson investigate a potential IED site encountered while conducting a dismounted route clearance patrol. Conducting visits to local areas of interest reinforces security gains made by Afghan National Defense Security Forces and provides mobile protection for the Kandahar Air Field.

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples, Software, Acquisition, Defense Innovation Board, JIDO
12/9/2019Forrest Shull, Software Acquisition and Practices Study
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Defense-Innovation-Board-Lesson-Learned--Make-it-Easy-for-Others-to-Helpsparks123403208/10/2022 9:03 PM
DoD makes use of advisory committees consisting of a mixture of government, industry, and academic experts, all trying to help. However, the Department can make it extremely difficult for these groups to function, an example of what we refer to on the Defense Innovation Board (DIB) as a “self-denial of service attack.”* The DIB SWAP study is itself a case in point.

The DIB Software Acquisition and Practices (SWAP) study clock started ticking when the 2018 NDAA was signed on Dec. 12, 2017. We had our first SWAP discussion at the Pentagon on Jan. 16, 2018, before we had officially been requested by the Under Secretary for Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment) to start, but knowing this was coming (and using the DIB Science & Technology [S&T] committee to ramp up quickly). We identified potential subcommittee members by 12 February, and we were officially charged to carry out the study on April 5, 2018. The one-year Congressionally-mandated end date was thus set as April 5, 2019. The DIB S&T subcommittee submitted the list of suggested subcommittee members. Then we started waiting…

On May 24, 2018, after a DIB meeting, one of the SWAP co-chairs found out that there had been no movement on these positions. He sent a note to the DIB’s Executive Director, expressing disappointment and reiterating the importance of getting these people on board early in the study. The Executive Director tried to use this note to push things along. More waiting…

The first activity in which any new member of the SWAP subgroup participated took place on Nov. 1, 2018— a full 30 weeks after our 52-week countdown started and 9 months after we had identified the people whom we wanted to enlist in to help in our study. Even this took repeated interventions by the DIB staff and, in the end, only two of the four people who we hoped could help were able to participate in the study. The timing was such that we had already visited five of the six programs with which we met, written seven of the eight concept papers that we generated, and held three of the four public meetings that provided input for our report.

Why did things take so long? These people were ready to help, had served in government advisory roles in the past, and provided incredibly valuable input in the end (but only in the end). Maybe we need some sort of “FACA Pre ✓” that allows DoD to make use of people who are willing to help and all we need to do is ask.

Another example: the SWAP study decided to use Google’s G Suite as the means for writing our report. It had some nice features for collaboration and several of us were familiar with using it. Setting up a G Suite site is fast and easy, and a member of the study had previously created a site in a matter of minutes and had a fully operational, two-factor authenticated set of accounts up and running in less than a week. It turns out that the Department has the authority to create official G Suite sites and so we just needed to get permission to use it.

Our request went in ~April 10, 2018. The site was created on Aug. 8, 2018, 17 weeks after our request. As near as we can tell, the only thing that happened during the 4 months that it took to get the site working was that people said “no” and then other people had to spend time figuring out why they said no and either convincing them that this really was useful and a good solution for the study’s needs and/or going above their heads. A major theme from the beginning of the SWAP study, and more generally in the DIB’s overall work, has been that DoD technology must move at the speed of (mission) need, faster than our adversaries and, certainly, not that much slower than what has proven possible and effective in the private sector. If the Department wants to take advantage of people who can help it be more effective in development and delivery of technology for improving national security, it should figure out how to quickly put together groups of people from inside and outside government, provide them with modern collaboration environments, and let them spend their time providing service to the Department instead of struggling with the bureaucracy.

[RELATED CONTENT: Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Defense Innovation Board Software Acquisition and Practices Study]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples, Software, Acquisition, Defense Innovation Board, SWAP, Software Acquisition and Practices Study
12/17/2019Richard Murray, Software Acquisition and Practices Study
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--AMRAAM-Uses-The-Right-Toolssparks123403218/10/2022 9:03 PM

Enforcing change often takes time—especially where the government is involved.

For the hands behind the only Advanced Medium Range-Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production, time is something they can’t afford to lose if they hope to maintain a competitive advantage. This was the challenge the program recently faced when negotiating a contract for Lot 32. During an effort to insert a new variant of the AMRAAM missile into the field, which included a redesign of subsystems and replacement of electronic chips, obtaining the necessary funds without sacrificing too much lead time quickly became a challenge.

“Our job, as acquisition leaders, is to stay ahead of the game,” AMRAAM Program Manager, Colonel Brian Henson said.

“We needed a way to execute the AMRAAM production Lot 32 faster and more efficiently,” AMRAAM Lot 32 Production and Contracting Officer Jeff Mixson explained. “The DoD Sole Source Streamlining (SSS) Toolbox is a point-and-click interface that allows […] anyone involved in the acquisition process to streamline procurement action lead time without sacrificing quality or the art of the deal.”

Because of the similarities between Lots 31 and 32—same number of missiles, same type of variant, hardware and suppliers—the Lot 32 production team, by utilizing the previously analyzed data tool from the SSS Toolbox, were essentially able to skip an entire step of the process. This allowed the team to reduce the procurement action lead time by an estimated eight months, and their man time by about 3,000 hours—all while maintaining the competitive advantage.

“Success for us […] was the fact that we were able to get the contract awarded for us,” Col. Henson said. “Over six hundred missiles—within three months from the previous lot, rather than a year to a year and a half … That’s a year earlier we were able to focus on the next contract, which goes into also missiles being delivered earlier.”

Ultimately, the SSS Toolbox is intended to help acquisition specialists increase efficiency throughout the acquisition process. Of the 40 techniques offered by the SSS Toolbox, the team used techniques 3.5 and 3.7 during their evaluation of the Lot 32 proposal. The first of these techniques considers materiality and risks the government and program office is willing to take by conducting a top-level analysis of the Lot 32 proposal, while the latter streamlines cost analysis.

“The bottom line is: this tool box is there for a reason,” Mixson said. “Utilize it, utilize the techniques, understand your situation, make a case and present it to leadership and you will typically get a yes answer.

According to Col. Henson, “You can always challenge the status quo if you have a good reason.”

[RELATED CONTENT: Extended DAU podcast interview with key AMRAAM program personnel]
[RELATED CONTENT: DoD Sole Source Streamlining Toolbox]
[RELATED CONTENT: Powerful Examples Homepage]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Banner Image: LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Senior Airman Michael Breed and Staff Sgt. Scott Robert walk through rain and strong winds with an AIM-120 missile. The missile was removed from an F-22A Raptor during the pre-generation portion of the Phase 1 operational readiness exercise here Jan. 31. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric T. Sheler)

Key Words: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Powerful Examples, AMRAAM, Sole Source, Contracting
1/9/2020Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Assembled-Chemical-Weapons-Alternatives--A-Different-Approachsparks123403228/10/2022 9:03 PM
It’s ironic—figuring out how to safely destroy a tool designed to inflict incomprehensible destruction.

That’s why Department of Defense created the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA). This program, headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, is an alternative approach to the traditional method of incinerating chemical weapons stockpiles and is responsible for the “safe and environmentally compliant destruction of the remaining 10 percent of the original U.S. chemical weapons stockpile” left over from World War II. ACWA was established in response to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons of destruction.

ACWA Program Executive Officer Michael Abai spoke with Lois Harper, a former DAU dean, about the challenges he’s faced in managing such an extraordinary, yet delicate, undertaking, the important lessons he’s gained from the experience, and the impact destroying these weapons quickly has on Defense initiatives.

“The sooner we can decrease the cost associated in eliminating these chemical weapons, [the sooner] we can use those dollars in better areas in supporting our warfighter,” Abai said, stressing that he is also looking at ways to reduce the cost of the program going forward.

Since the 1980s, the price tag of the program has ballooned to more than $30 billion.

While nobody wants chemical weapons in their backyard, there is another reason for the sense of urgency in destroying the stockpile – the deadline to fulfill our obligations outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention is 2023.

“We’re working very diligently to make sure that we put the right tools in place, right incentives in place, to make sure that our contractors are focused in getting to that end date that we need,” Abai said.

Upon his initial assessment of the sites, Abai stated, “Decisions weren’t being made at those facilities at the place where it needs to be.”

His first order of business, before he could get the facilities functioning and operating, was establishing a solid support network. A task force was put in place to help compare contracting options, while subject matter expert teams were consulted to evaluate four crucial areas: contracting, risk, technology and safety.

To meet their rapidly approaching deadline, ACWA contracted the Bechtel Pueblo Team (PCAPP) at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) and the Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass team (BGCAPP) at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) to determine how to safely destroy the 900,00 mustard munitions and 100,000 nerve and mustard rounds located at the respective facilities.

Additionally, Abai recognized a key area where the government and contractors were not on the same page.

“One of the things that became very apparent to me early on was that the government was tracking risks differently than the contractor,” said Abai.

The key factor to mitigating these risks boiled down to being proactive. Abai’s solution was to restructure operations to place decision making at the appropriate level. He determined that plant managers needed to be the ones managing the plants’ and day-to-day operations rather than the project managers.

Under Abai’s guidance, the BGCAPP has since managed to become a fully functioning facility, while the PCD tripled the amount of munitions they destroy daily, going from 100 to 300 a day.

When asked about the secret to his program’s success, Abai responded: “It’s not a team of one, it’s a team of many.”
[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Audio interview with ACWA program management team]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: ACWA, Chemical Weapons, Lessons Learned, Best Practices
1/23/2020Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Army-IVASsparks123403238/10/2022 9:03 PM
The 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States acknowledges the erosion of our close combat capability relative to peer competitors, and further recognizes that current and future battlefields will be characterized by conditions that will continue to reduce comparative advantage. The Army’s assessment of its close combat capability is that close combat formations lack overmatch in any environment relative to today’s peer opponents. In terms of situational awareness, navigation, communications and target acquisition, small units operate with parity – not advantage – to likely adversaries. This was deemed unacceptable.

(Click here for a full-screen version of the video)

Following a vendor’s technology demonstration, generating significant SECDEF and Chief of Staff of the Army interest and support, funding was secured to develop and produce a capability that would quickly restore the Army’s advantage in this critical area.

The solution is the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). IVAS will improve Soldier sensing, decision making, target acquisition and target engagement. Through this next generation, 24/7 situational awareness tool, the Soldier will now have a single platform to fight, rehearse and train.
IVAS will consist of:
  • A wearable, heads-up display with various sensors including thermal and low-light sensors, capable of day/night 3D navigation in contested environments, rapid target acquisition for increased lethality from weapon sensor sights, and advance squad situational awareness;
  • An on-body computer (the “puck”) to manage sensors and unit experience;
  • A squad radio providing secure, two-way communications; and
  • A conformal, wearable battery providing a power source that integrates into body armor and is capable of re-charge.
IVAS thus allows the Soldier/Squad to sense and navigate the environment in day and night, acquire and engage targets, increase speed and quality of tactical decisions, and improve overall situational awareness.

Sponsored by Army Futures Command’s Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team (CFT), and executed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army’s Program Executive Officer Soldier (PEO Soldier), the IVAS program is led by an O-6 program manager with extensive experience as an infantryman and acquirer. Along with the PM and a seasoned Deputy PM, Team IVAS includes a talented group of acquisition professionals handpicked from the PEO Soldier enterprise, Systems Engineering and Technical assistance (SETA) contractors, and matrixed, expert support from a variety of Army organizations including C5ISR, Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD), Synthetic Training Environment (STE) CFT, Soldier Lethality CFT, Network CFT, Program Executive Officer Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), PM Tactical Radio, as well as Army and SOCOM warfighters, testers, and combat developers. Microsoft was competitively selected as the prime integrator, and is supported by twelve additional vendors working sensor developments for the program. All 13 contracts were competitively awarded via Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs).

With senior leader attention focused squarely on the success of this high interest/high priority program, and motivated by the need to demonstrate the ability to effectively execute this Section 804 Middle Tier of Acquisition program, IVAS program leadership worked from the onset to engender a program culture that promoted teamwork, trust, transparency and innovation. To meet the schedule for delivery of prototypes agreed upon by senior Army leaders, it would not and could not be “business as usual”.

At the request of OSD (A&S), the Defense Acquisition University, in support of Team IVAS, has collected an initial series of lessons learned, to be shared with other programs executing Section 804 Middle Tier of Acquisition Programs and those using OTAs as the contract vehicles to develop/prototype a capability. These lessons are listed in the order presented by the program manager at a recent A&S-sponsored Adaptive Acquisition Framework Training Event for SAEs/PEOs/PMs. Additional lessons noted by DAU will be added to the PM’s list as they are created. Finally, videos on these topics highlighting important practices and lessons will also be created in order to engage the widest possible audience of acquisition professionals.


Lesson 1: Pursue Outcomes, Not KPPs
“The specifications we started with were not the ones needed to deliver what the Close Combat Force needed/wanted”.

The team began this effort thinking that they knew exactly what they wanted. It was during negotiations with the vendors that they began to think differently…that it was about outcomes, not specifications. The PM related a prior experience on a program where he and his team were confident that they nailed every KPP, and delivered it only to find that the Soldiers never used it. “We thought we had it right…we had it wrong”. They learned that the prime contractor, Microsoft, employs a development process that strongly considers user empathy, not typical to defense acquisition. Microsoft would be driven to understand how the Soldier operates individually and as a squad, and then produce something the Soldier will truly use. The program team embraced this development process of human-centered design. They modified it for their purposes and dubbed it “Soldier-centered design," again focusing on what the Soldier needs to do in the close combat environment. To make it work, it would heavily leverage warfighter involvement, helping the program team understand what would work best for the Soldier. Thus the #1 outcome of the program is “…that Soldiers love and use IVAS.” The challenge now becomes how to measure that sentiment. The resultant process is further discussed in Lesson 3 below.

Lesson 2: Iterate as Often as Possible
“The initial concept is the right solution about 10% of the time; iterating at least 22 times increases likelihood of success to 90% (Kohavi Binomial Distribution 2009)."

Based on the work of Ronny Kohavi, a technical fellow and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, the company employs a development approach that relies on iteration to achieve a 90% confidence in the outcome.

“Controlled experiments can transform decision making into a scientific, evidence-driven process—rather than an intuitive reaction. Without them, many breakthroughs might never happen, and many bad ideas would be implemented, only to fail, wasting resources.” (Kohavi, Oct 17). The IVAS Team embraced and willingly adopted this “power of iteration” philosophy, planning to conduct up to 23 software sprints over a 24 month period, feeling that they needed this many sprints to allow them to learn at each step, discovering at times that what they thought was right wasn’t necessarily so. “Iterating 22 times, with the right team and the right partners, who are thinking outside the box…you’ll get it right”. Of note is the extent of warfighter involvement in the process, a key element in agile software development and the sprint activity. It was through this process that both Microsoft and the Government team began to understand what the Soldier really wanted and what system capabilities were needed for the Soldier to effectively do the job. An example of this is highlighted in Lesson 9.

Lesson 3: Soldier-Centered Design Works
“Over 5,000 hours of Soldier feedback to date; use dedicated researchers and testers to validate Soldier need, establish discipline feedback model to rapidly influence designs and outcomes, measure sentiment, and evaluate.”

If the #1 objective is for “…Soldiers to love and use IVAS”, then Team IVAS needed a method to measure Soldier sentiment, as well as evaluate its capabilities. Thus, the team embraced the concept of Soldier-centered design, a framework of processes in which usability goals, Soldier characteristics, environment, tasks and workflow are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. Soldier-centered design can be characterized as a multi-stage design and problem-solving process that not only requires designers to analyze and envision the way Soldiers are likely to employ the capability, but also to validate their assumptions with regard to the Soldier behavior in real world tests, with real world Soldiers. Employing agile methods, a 24 month, 23 sprint program was structured and broken up into four distinctive capability sets with user studies, user juries and Soldier touchpoints built in to each sprint. User studies are small, informal focus groups looking at a specific topic. The user studies consist of a survey and follow-up questions to better understand the survey answers. The intent of the user jury is to look at one feature and test that feature. The user jury is evaluative, provides better feedback on program progression, and is a rehearsal for the Soldier touchpoint. The Soldier touchpoint is a larger test event, includes training and builds from individual tasks to squad and platoon tasks. The Soldier touchpoint is a more operational look and looks for combat effectiveness.

Thus, the amount of Soldier involvement and interaction is unprecedented. Likewise is the level of direct access to these Soldiers. With Soldiers deployed to Microsoft, and a group of Government and Microsoft researchers (“…a platoon of PhDs”) walking behind Soldiers, measuring, observing and documenting, Team IVAS is able to evaluate IVAS’s capabilities and more importantly, gauge Soldier sentiment. At the conclusion of testing, Team IVAS will have accumulated over 20K hours of invaluable Soldier feedback.

Lesson 4: MTA, Rapid Prototyping Deliberate Talent Management
“The Government team was built with only highly qualified functional experts and leaders; all are volunteers, all are interviewed and go through a selection process.”

Successfully executing this fast paced, high-visibility, high-priority Middle Tier of Acquisition project requires a highly experienced and talented team, one steeped with foundational knowledge of acquisition policy and processes (“you can’t think outside the box unless you know what’s in the box”…important as the innovative acquisition approaches are considered). Team members had to be resourceful, innovative, tolerant of high-risk and massive change, and capable of performing at incredibly high speeds. With senior leader support, the PM was given the authority to hand-pick his leadership team within the PEO, using by-name requests, management reassignments, and internal competition. Assignment to the team was voluntary, given the anticipated demands. If anyone was found to lack the needed skills, abilities and desire consistent with team needs, the PM had the authority to reassign them. In his words, “…every day is a tryout."

Complementing this small (15 positions), but very capable organic program office team is an assemblage of matrixed talent from various Army acquisition organizations and support contractors with the right mix of specialty skills, including sensor and optics engineers, technologists, communications engineers, testers, product support specialists, budget and finance specialists, and operators.

However, while hand-picking talent and augmenting with matrixed and contractor support allowed the program team to ramp up quickly and put the program on a path to success, this model isn’t sustainable. Taking key talent from other programs puts those programs at risk, potentially impacts program execution, and affects team morale. In this case, leadership had little choice. If staffing was to occur at the “speed of war”, current DoD hiring and staffing processes would be too slow and stodgy to quickly staff an unplanned program. Thus, to successfully staff multiple programs, planned or unplanned, flexible and agile hiring processes are required.

Lesson 5: Organizational Structure Matters
The organizational structure was purpose built for this specific MTA program; a traditional PMO structure would not have been as effective.”

Team IVAS and its organizational structure were created from whole cloth. Eschewing a traditional PMO structure, they instead studied Microsoft’s team structure and chose to align with the contractor team and replicate Microsoft’s program organizational structure (to the extent possible), ensuring a flattened organization with very few layers of management. Team IVAS is led by a seasoned level III acquirer with extensive experience as both a program manager and combat infantryman. He possesses superb communication skills, able to communicate both up the chain and across the PO with ease. Directly reporting to the PM are four functional leaders (Acquisition/Ops, Technology, Test, Logistics) and nine subject matter experts, known as “directly responsible individuals” (Device and Sensor, HUD Experience, Synthetic Training Environment, Soldier/Squad Architecture, Soldier Performance Model, Information Security, Soldier Integration Facility, Platform Integration, and Network) each given specific lines of responsibility and authorities.

As well, to successfully execute this expedited, technologically complex strategic program, the organization had to be structured to work as a network of people working across functional lines, versus working in stovepipes. This facilitates planning and working on tasks in parallel rather than serially, allowing a pace of task accomplishment measured in days and weeks, not months and years.

Lesson 6: Develop a Data Management Framework Early
“Shared understanding of taxonomy, data analytics, and visualization within government enterprise and vendors is critical for rapid reasoning.”

Many of the IVAS vendors are non-traditional; that is, they do not typically engage in defense work. As such, they lack a basic understanding of the military, and specifically of the Army mission, culture, language, and structure. Recognizing this problem, government team data engineers and scientists worked to develop a data management framework, a common language and set of visualization tools for the government and thirteen vendors, to allow real-time sharing of data. Of note, PowerPoint is rarely used in favor of other common visualization tools, including Power BI (a business analytics tool with interactive dashboards and reports, developed by Microsoft), that depict real time status, battle rhythm updates, risk analysis and problem solving, and issues to be worked. Additionally, a “tactical operations center” with a series of large wall displays has been set up, where specific data can be reviewed real time by program team members.

Lesson 7: Pause for Detailed Assessment and Planning
“After each Soldier Touch Point, the team conducts detailed planning (3-5 weeks) jointly with CFT, PEO, necessary stakeholders, and Microsoft before entering into the next phase of prototyping.”

The prototyping effort is split into four separate and distinct capability sets, each building off the previous results. A user jury approach is employed, which Microsoft has shown to be important to product success. This approach includes user studies, user juries, and Soldier touchpoints. User studies are small, informal focus groups looking at a specific topic. The user studies consist of a survey and follow-up questions to better understand the survey answers. The intent of the user jury is to look at one feature and test that feature. The user jury is evaluative, provides better feedback on program progression, and is a rehearsal for the Soldier touchpoint. The Soldier touchpoint is a larger test event, includes training and builds from individual tasks to squad and platoon tasks. The Soldier touchpoint is a more operational look and looks for combat effectiveness.

After each Soldier Touch Point (STP), the team stops to conduct an assessment and write a detailed plan over a three to five week period for the next capability set. All stakeholders, to include the vendor Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs), testers, and the appropriate AFC cross functional team (CFT) team members, as well as PEO and program team personnel, are included. Feedback from the completed STP is reviewed, opportunities identified, objectives for the next capability set defined/refined, and the desired results are reviewed as part of the detailed planning process. The intent is to get all stakeholders aligned before proceeding to the next phase.

Lesson 8: Invest in the Vendor Relationship
“The nature of this prototyping approach requires complete alignment between vendor and government; business rules include Directly Responsible Individual concept, co-locating, and unique battle rhythm.”

To be a successful program, IVAS had to blend two vastly different cultures to create a highly functional team. The unprecedented high-level support of the program allowed the program office to capitalize on the best practices of each organization.

Following contract award, the Government embedded select team members at Microsoft’s facilities in Washington State. Likewise, Microsoft team members embedded in team IVAS spaces at Fort Belvoir. This relationship builds trust, promotes transparency, and most importantly, creates alignment. As well, the program office adopted Microsoft’s Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) concept to mirror their organization and create direct lines of communication between the two organizations in these critical areas. Thus, the teams are working together real-time and both the government and Microsoft are more transparent than expected in a firm-fixed price environment.

An example of where transparency between the two organizations fostered the “outcome focused-culture” of the program: The Government embedded sustainment specialists at Microsoft facilities to aid in the understanding of IVAS logistics/sustainment requirements. Successful support of the fielded system supports the outcome goal of “…Soldiers love and use IVAS” over the life of IVAS.

Lesson 9: System Engineering of the Squad vs. Soldier
“This promotes open system design across the dismounted squad and enables efficiencies while preventing engineering blind spots when managing the squad as a combat system.”

While IVAS is intended for individual Soldier use, designing it in a vacuum without regard for how each of its capabilities interacts at the squad level is short sighted, and potentially diminishes both individual and squad effectiveness. If the Soldier is a system, then the squad is a system of systems. Understanding how the Soldier interacts with other Soldiers in the squad is vitally important, and helps determine what capabilities truly matter as squad architecture is considered. For example, weight and power were important considerations as IVAS was being designed. The multiple sensors in the system have the potential to generate lots of heat and create weight issues that potentially affect the center of gravity of the heads up display. As the program was being formulated, the program team, in considering Soldier capabilities, assumed that long range sensing was just as important as short range. Through Soldier-centered design and evaluation, Soldier feedback debunked that assumption. The Soldiers valued the short range sensing capability because of its increased field of view; the widest field of view was important to the Soldier engaged in close combat operations as they climb, run, shoot etc. They had little need for a long range sensor with a diminished field of view especially since they have a weapon sight that can provide this capability. The result was sensor and optic changes that decreased weight and power to an already highly tasked system design.

Lesson 10: The MTA Approach Incentivizes the Right Behaviors Across the Acquisition Enterprise
“True partnering and collaboration across the CFTs, PEOs, PMs, Army and OSD staff, DOT&E, and Industry will be the primary reason this effort is successful; MTA allows for the maneuver space necessary for this to occur.”

NDAA 2016 Section 804, the Middle Tier of Acquisition, provides a rapid prototyping acquisition pathway.This pathway “…shall provide for the use of innovative technologies to rapidly develop fieldable prototypes to demonstrate new capabilities and meet emerging military needs.The objective of an acquisition program under this pathway shall be to field a prototype that can be demonstrated in an operational environment and provide for a residual operational capability within five years of the development of an approved requirement.” It is intended to shave years off programs, streamline metrics, decisions and reporting, and allows more risk taking and exploring options to limit risk in fielding.The success of IVAS will ultimately rest with the partnerships created by necessity to solve a challenging problem in a very tight timeline.As the PM stated “804 incentivizes that behavior (partnerships) and creates the maneuver space for that partnering to happen.You cannot…solve (difficult) problems by yourself.”

The program implemented a Board of Director structure whose purpose is to provide collaborative, senior leader governance that drives alignment across all stakeholders in preparation for a future production decision, and solidifies on-going commitment to the program.
As well and in the spirit of collaboration, program leadership invited representatives from stakeholder organizations, including those who may not be “all-in” initially with respect to strategy or approach, to embed in team offices and give them the opportunity to experience program operations first-hand. They are invited to participate and contribute to program planning and operations, and keep their chain of command informed and involved. For example, Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) personnel were added to the test planning team to help with test planning and participate in the test and evaluation for each capability set. Others embedded include representatives from the Synthetic Training Environment CFT, Contracts and Agreements, C5ISR, among others.
[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Adaptive Acquisition Framework]
[RELATED CONTENT: DoD Other Transaction Guide]
[RELATED CONTENT: Middle Tier of Acquisition Resource Page]
[RELATED CONTENT: Full-screen video of the IVAS presentation]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Contributing authors: Lynne Giordano, Alana McCullough, and Harry Snodgrass

The banner image on this page shows Soldiers from the Old Guard testing the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, Va., in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon.

Key Words: Requirements, Other Transaction Authorities, Army, DoD, Acquisition, Lessons Learned, Best Practices
1/27/2020Tony Romano and Jim Whitehead, DAU IVAS engagement co-leads
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Army-Leader-Dashboardsparks123403248/10/2022 9:03 PM

One of the biggest hurdles of managing data is keeping track of it.

The Army Leader Dashboard (ALD) will mitigate this challenge by organizing and integrating all Army data into one centralized location. It will provide leaders with easy accessibility to a comprehensive view of data that will aid in their strategic decision-making.

“There’s a great need to have that level of visibility, to have quality trusted data, to have informed, fact-based discussions instead of making decisions that impact the Army on assumptions,” said Strategic Initiatives Group Director and Project Lead, Lt. Col. Robert Wolfe from Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS).
Wolfe hopes the ALD will address those visibility problems and the question of how to most effectively manage the Army’s data. In devising an innovative solution, Wolfe opted for Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs), a non-traditional contract method that Wolfe described as being “tailored to the need of each user.” By using this method, Wolfe has had organized access to 700 different data sources. However, Wolfe warned that “saving time is not one of the reasons to choose OTAs.”

The need for the ALD comes at the behest of the Army Chief of Staff, who stated that the enterprise suffers from the inability to “see self.” There is an abundance of data dispersed among numerous databases across the military Service. As that data continues to grow, the Army’s visibility dwindles.

“We currently don’t have that capability to look across the domains,” Wolfe said. “We have lots of great tools that can tell us everything about a person, we have lots of great tools that can tell us everything about training or logistics, but we don’t have a tool that gives us visibility to do cross-domain analysis to have insight-driven decisions.”

Among the system features the ALD will provide is data configurable to individual users, predictive analytics, plain text search capabilities, platform versatility and integrated private and public data. Wolfe believes these features will help drive the aforementioned data-driven decisions he spoke about, and eventually serve as a “common data platform” that Soldiers across the entire Army can access.

“We don’t know everything,” Wolfe admitted. “So we wanted to make sure that we leveraged industry, and we’re truly going to take advantage of best practices and cutting edge technology.”

Industry leader involvement was a major part of the process for executing the ALD. Wolfe revealed that 73 one-on-one sessions were conducted with industry leaders and partners in order to root out the data problem the Army was facing and determine a solution.

The success of the ALD will result in a competitive advantage for the Army by providing cost saving opportunities as the organization consolidates its analytics capabilities and increased productivity for workers.

When asked what advice he would share with new project managers, Wolfe kept it simple: “Don’t assume that you know everything.” Lastly, he advised others to trust the process and practice discipline.

[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Adaptive Acquisition Framework]
[RELATED CONTENT: DoD Other Transaction Guide]
[RELATED CONTENT: Middle Tier of Acquisition Resource Page]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Requirements, Other Transaction Authorities, Army, DoD, Acquisition, Lessons Learned, Best Practices
6/1/2019Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example--Successful-Partnership-Key-to-Performance-Based-Logisticssparks123403258/10/2022 9:03 PM

Through Performance-Based Logistics, the Warfighter is given a leap in performance and transparency not offered by traditional acquisition arrangements.

In 2006, Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP WSS) began searching for a requisitions solution for the AMC computer program, a state-of-the-art system used in select high-performance jet aircraft that provides weapons targeting, digital imagery, and network-centric operations.

(Click here to watch a full screen version of the interview)

“We were having significant support issues in pre-PBL environment,” Larry Garvey of NAVSUP WSS said, during a roundtable discussion with Jeff Heron, NAVAIR, and DAU’s Betsy Lederer about Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) and the impact it’s had on solving readiness issues.

The search for a better way of doing acquisition led to Performance-Based Logistics, a weapon system sustainment strategy made to improve weapon system readiness and support and deliver items faster to the Warfighter. PBL leverages long-term performance-based agreements and incentivizes contractors to lean out the supply chain. The objective of PBL is to provide performance improvements for weapon systems, both new and legacy, as opposed to traditional sustainment models. Executed efficiently, PBL will generate substantial cost savings and improved capability.

“We were getting 37 percent materiel availability,” Garvey recounted. “Which means that only 37 percent of the time that we have an asset when we received a requisition from the fleet. At time of PBL award, we had 74 backorders.”

Through a partnership with the NAVAIR program office, NAVSUP WSS was able to secure a PBL to support the AMC computers just a couple of years later in 2008.

“We have seen significant improvements since the PBL was awarded,” said Garvey.

Garvey also explained that within six months of being awarded the PBL contract, materiel availability at NAVSUP WSS (Philadelphia, PA) improved to 100 percent and backorders were eliminated. Improvements have since been consistently maintained over the last ten years. Reliability of two of the key components has also been improved since instituting PBL, Garvey added. Advanced Mission Computer reliability is 29 percent better now than in the beginning, while the Mission Computer is 34 percent improved.

“Our goal at NAVSUP WSS is always to seek out the best possible support solution and PBL is one of the primary tools in our toolbox to do that,” Garvey stated.

In the end, both Garvey and Heron agreed that to procure the needs of the Warfighter, all parties involved need to come together to craft a solution.

[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Full-Length Podcast Interview with NAVSUP and NAVAIR Leaders]
[RELATED CONTENT: Life-Cycle Logistics Community of Practice]
[RELATED CONTENT: Life-Cycle Logistics Blog Landing Page]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at

Key Words: Performance Based Logistics, NAVSUP, NAVAIR, Navy, DoD, Acquisition, Lessons Learned, Best Practices

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2/26/2020Kendell Penington, DAU Staff Writer
/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example-IVAS-Program-uses-Middle-Tier-and-Other-Transaction-Authoritiessparks123403268/10/2022 9:03 PM
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program office employed critical thinking and innovative practices in the strategy, planning and execution of IVAS--an acquisition program designed to give our Soldiers, Marines and Special Operators a decisive advantage in close-combat capability. The program team leveraged the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, Middle Tier of Acquisition Pathway/Rapid Prototyping Path as highlighted in DoDI 5000.80, as well as Other Transaction Authorities to contract with Microsoft and other traditional and non-traditional vendors. Additionally, they involved Soldiers in the design and test process ("Soldier-Centered Design"), collaborated with key stakeholders and industry as one team (the "right team"), and effectively identified, managed and drove down risk as development and testing progressed.

IVAS is a low-profile, ruggedized Heads-Up Display (HUD) with a body borne computer pack, Conformal Wearable Battery (CWB), squad radio, and integrated thermal and low light sensors that provides the Close Combat Force a single platform to fight, rehearse, and train. The IVAS suite of capabilities leverages tactical mixed reality to enable planning, networked information sharing via Tactical Cloud Package (TCP) and Cloud Services, and an augmented reality Synthetic Training Environment (STE) and Squad immersive Virtual Trainer (SiVT) that enables the Warfighter to fight ‘25 bloodless battles’ before engaging the enemy. IVAS integrates next generation situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to deliver a single platform that improves Soldier sensing, decision making, target acquisition, and target engagement. These capabilities will provide the increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries.

Team IVAS is on target to begin production in March 2021, with first unit equipped in September 2021, accelerating the development process by more than four years compared to traditional acquisition processes.
Related - DAU Powerful Examples Home Page
Related - Powerful Example: Army IVAS brings together the right requirements with the right acquisition strategy
Related - DoD Adaptive Acquisition Framework
Related - DoD Middle Tier Acquisition Authorities
Related - DoD Other Transaction Authorities

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at
12/14/2020By: Tony Romano, DAU
/powerful-examples/Blog/Assessing-the-health-of-your-Contracting-organizationsparks123403278/10/2022 9:03 PM
How do contracting leaders know they are making the right decisions regarding resource allocation, workload priorities, long and short term planning? A tool has been developed by a team in Defense Health Agency (DHA) to help answer these questions. The Contracting Office Health Assessment Dashboard (COHAD) has been developed to communicate clearly and rapidly about the health of internal contracting organizations across a wide variety of metrics.

Hilary Lewis, project lead and Chief for the Managed Care Contracting Division’s TRICARE Support Branch spoke with Jeff Schmidt, DAU. They discussed the challenges, benefits, and lessons learned from the development of this tool.

Identifying some of the challenges in developing the COHAD, Lewis said, “I wish I had known how everyone we share this with has a vested interest in what should be included/excluded and how the information should be presented/labeled. There are a lot of leaders with strong opinions! I would have polled more widely for metric ideas before starting out and did research about which metrics had the most robust data sources.There were some elements of the dashboard originally included that have very little data to support them and probably shouldn’t have been included because they don’t provide meaningful information.”

The intended benefit is leadership uses the dashboard as a measure of the health of individual contracting offices – and to make fully informed decisions using the dashboard as their guide. In addition, the intended outcome is for contracting organizations within DHA to take actions that will improve their operating efficiency and effectiveness and be reflected in the Dashboard.

Lewis identified the biggest benefit COHAD brings is it “synthesizes large volumes of data currently found in a wide variety of locations/sources. It brings the data into one place where the information can be accessed and utilized to make meaningful decisions. Also, this eliminates the need for iterative data calls/taskers—allowing information to be pulled when needed by leadership.”

When it comes to lessons learned, “having a team of SMEs dedicated to this task is essential. While the tool is simple, it was anything but easy to develop and finalize. Having a champion is also key—someone who can understand and speak to both the acquisition and data systems makes things much easier. There were often times when the dashboard developers who fully understand how to manipulate data were at a standstill with acquisition professionals over a single word – it was key to have a translator who could speak to both acquisition terms of art and data analysis” said Lewis.
/powerful-examples/Blog/Using-Commercial-Solutions-Opening-as-a-Force-Enablersparks123403288/10/2022 9:03 PM

A Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) is a merit-based source selection strategy for the Department of Defense (DoD) to acquire innovative commercial items, technologies, or services that directly fulfill requirements, close capability gaps, or provide potential technological advances. It’s focused on businesses or institutions that have “not traditionally” done business with the U.S. Government. CSO was authorized by Section 879 of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Hilary Lewis, Chief for the Managed Care Contracting Division’s TRICARE Support Branch spoke with Jeff Schmidt, DAU. They discussed the challenges, benefits, and lessons learned using this innovative acquisition approach.

In November 2019, Lewis served as the lead business advisor for the $39 million FY2018 NDAA Section 731. Section 731 directed the Patient Navigator Pilot Program using Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) Pilot Program. The goal of the CSO program was to improve the health outcomes and the patient experience for certain TRICARE Select beneficiaries.

Lewis and her team brainstormed on how they could use this pilot program to resolve challenges. The team decided to pursue this pilot under a stand-alone contract apart from the existing TRICARE managed care support contracts. Meckel saw an opportunity to inject innovation and creativity into the contracting process by opening the bidding process to a more diverse vendor pool.

Lewis and her team discussed the opportunities and limitations of the directive and created a plan to leverage non-traditional government sources. In addition to expanding the pool of possible industry partners, Lewis's team streamlined the way they evaluated source selection. The team knew when awarding a contract to a non-traditional source extra administrative steps are required. These steps ensure all pro-forma and government specific are met. Lewis and her team created a framework that met all of the requirements and then allowed vendors to share their proposed solutions.

The CSO framework Lewis and team established reduced the burden on industry to compete, enhanced the communication and collaboration between industry and the Government and allowed greater flexibility to obtain widely varying proposed solutions. The CSO authority allowed the team to take advantage of innovation present in the commercial marketplace. In addition to more options the team found this approach led to a more compact schedule and competitive commercial pricing. Lewis stated that she and her team were able to collapse the traditional acquisition schedule from over 28 months to less than 10 months.

Lewis shared how Industry responded and how highly they valued the opportunity to sell their approach in person at the "pitch day". The contracting team was able to focus on the key elements of the solutions during the presentations. This added focus allowed the team to streamline the selection process. They call their new approach a 'collaborative consensus' which allowed all participants to work together as a team to select the awardee.

Lewis commented on the impact of creative thinking, specifically 'how much streamlining is possible if you think creatively."

The past Defense Health Agency Head of Contracting Agency and current Defense Pricing and Contracting, John Tenaglia, noted; "Well done! Very thoughtful and creative."

/powerful-examples/Blog/Powerful-Example-GBSD-Uses-Novel-Approaches-to-Deliver-Cutting-Edge-Capabilitiessparks123403298/10/2022 9:03 PM

The Sentinel, formerly known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), is the Air Force’s program to modernize the intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM). DAU sat down with leaders from multiple teams across the program to better understand how they are pushing the envelope of DoD acquisition to deliver cutting-edge capabilities.

For an in-depth look at the GBSD team's journey to adopt Agile methodologies, be sure to check out the recording of the from the March 2021 "Let's Talk Agile" web event.

(DAU POC: Dr. Renee Butler,
[RELATED CONTENT: DAU Powerful Examples Homepage]
[RELATED CONTENT: Adaptive Acquisition Framework]
[RELATED CONTENT: DoD Other Transaction Guide]
[RELATED CONTENT: Middle Tier of Acquisition Resource Page]
[RELATED CONTENT: "Let's Talk Agile" Web Event]

For more information about this story, or to submit your own Powerful Example, send an email to the DAU Powerful Examples Team at
7/7/2022DAU Powerful Examples Team