Phillips: Army must streamline requirements process

Phillips: Army must streamline requirements process

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Army acquisition officials want to speed up the process to issue requests for proposals to defense companies and thus issue contract awards quicker.

Army Lt. Gen. William Phillips, military deputy to the Army’s acquisition executive, said here on Wednesday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium that the Army too often drags its feet trying to perfect the draft RFP rather than issue it to companies and receive feedback faster.

“I think in the past, looking over the last three years that I’ve been in this job, we’ve been somewhat hesitant to get the draft RFP out,” Phillips said. “We want to get it better and get it better.”


Instead, the Army needs to “take some risk in that area,” Phillips said. He explained that the Army will have to finish their requirement lists for weapons programs faster to drive down costs.

The Army’s top acquisition officer pointed to the JLTV as a program in which the Army was able to utilize the feedback from companies about what was affordable and what requirements didn’t make sense.

“We did something that was incredibly unique that allowed us to get clearer insights into what industry can do for the Army,” Phillips said.

The sooner the Army can receive the feedback from the draft RFP, the more likely it is that the service acquisition teams can adapt the programs to industry realities.

“We probably will in the future in terms of getting the requirements out and the drafts out earlier to industry so they can review and comment on it and we can get real comments back and real input to industry so we can execute the process a little bit better, define it quicker and get it to the award much sooner,” Phillips said.

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The Army buys weapons by the thousands or millions, and most of their weapons don’t have huge recurring costs. Why are they paying for development at all? Why don’t they hold competitions for weapons developed at industry’s expense? There are plenty of weapons being bought over which the weapons manufacturers can make back their investment. Instead they continue to put the US taxpayer on the hook for all development expenses and these useless contractors have nothing at stake. How many more 3 decade long development programs do they think we will pay for before this scam is up?

None of the large coporations operating in the defense sector are truly in the business of making defense products, rather they are in the business of making profits on defense products and making profits on defense related engineering. They will not take big gambles with large portions of their own money, won’t smash their own piggy bank on large scale high risk development. It is much easier and far less risky to fold the tents, and move the money into something else.

You want to speed up the acquisition process! Just write industry a blank check to delivere anything. Make the soldier adapt what industry provides to what needs to be done.

I agree with Dfens. Instead of having crappy competition that dont work GCV ICC come to mind. We should just have a look at industry weapons see if they have any huge advantage over current weapons and pick from there save money.

Translation: “We fired all of the engineers who could actually tell us what was achievable or affordable back in the 80s, so now we have to ask the defense contractors to tell us. Fortunately, our defense industrial base never promises anything that turns out to be unobtainable or unaffordable…”

It is an addictive system they use today. Profit margins are very low, typically 10% to 15%, which is far lower than the 40% to 80% a typical private company needs to cover the losses associated with developing new products and occasionally failing with some of those new products. The problem for the US taxpayer is the contractors are assuming none of the risk, which means the profit they make, they do not deserve. Then there is the fact that at such a low profit rate these defense contractors do what amounts to strip mining the tax coffers. In order to make a decent amount of profit, they have to waste billions upon billions of tax dollars. Plus with profit rates that low, they cannot afford to risk abandoning that system and developing weapons at their own expense because one minor failure could destroy years worth of profitability. Really, it would be hard to come up with a worse system of procurement. Our enemies must look at this situation and laugh their asses off.

In a way, Im sure that they do laugh a bit, Dfens, but.… for all of its faults, would you care to guess what nation is the biggest exporter of military goods? Dont get me wrong, there are LOTs of thing wrong with how we go about acquiring military hardware, but… once it is designed, built, and proven, its pretty easy to sell anywhere in the world! :-)

I agree, in part. Having a crappy competition is a waste of time for everyone involved, but… how does the needs of the warfighter get funneled to the commercial concerns that might design and build a solution? That is really what the current system is SUPPOSED to do! (Please note the capitalization to emphasize the sarcasm!) The unfortunate thing is that we have, through our oversight requirements and the dynamics of any government bureaucracy, infused so much “overhead” into that supposedly simple process that its a marvel that we see ANY new military equipment going to the guys who need it. After all, that is how we got the $900 hammers and $1200 toilet seats that made the news a few years back. No requirements development or management, no R&D, no testing, just buying OTS items, and the “system” ended up legally and “appropriately” tacking on a truely newsworthy, and ridiculously obscene layer of “fat”. Fix the inherent, systemic and apparently inescapable issues that led to those fiascos, and the development of new weapon systems might start looking a lot more credible.

ROTFLMAO! You made a funny, didn’t you Dave? LOL!

No great or innovative weapon has ever been designed by the status quo system you love so much. Before we put the US taxpayer on the hook to pay for all R&D costs, we developed aircraft like the SR-71. Your system has given us the F-22 and F-35 and their 3 decades of development and their hundreds of millions of dollars price tag. Your system has grounded our manned space exploration. It has cut our Navy back to less than 300 rust buckets for a Navy instead of 600 top of the line ships that cost less than the rust buckets and didn’t break in half if you dared take them into the ocean.

The Air Force could easily put out a statement of need instead of a “requirements document” and let their contractors respond with an aircraft designed and prototyped with their own money, and if the contractors aren’t going to compete that way anymore, then the USAF should stand up its own aircraft design house and these contractors can go f themselves for a change instead of always f’ing us.

Qualified engineers capable of making feasability and affordability decisions are quickly marginalized or discarded, because defense contracts are all political slush funds or state jobs projects. The air force in particular is routinely informed by Congress just how many planes they need, what types, and where they will be built. Contract “competition ” doesn’t matter, because the politicians have already decided who is getting the money. There is a reason that they ALL die millionaires.

Well here we go again. One thing that age gives you and being associated with the defense business for over 40 years is you keep getting exposed to “Dejia Vu all over again”. There have been an infinate number of initiatives to streamline the requirements process but they did not work. I remember taking courses in 70’s in which the lack of requirments management was discussed with endless view graphs (before Power Point). This problem is not new.

Does ” Fix the inherent, systemic and apparently inescapable issues that led to those fiascos, and the development of new weapon systems might start looking a lot more credible.” REALLY sound like “status quo”? Its NOT “MY” system, its one that I have complained about for quite a while, but.… for all of its “warts” it has produced some fairly credible weapon systems. Should there be a better more affordable way to get to those weapon systems? CERTAINLY!

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