Pentagon Restructures its Acquisition, Technology, Logistics Organization

Ben FitzGerald, director of the Defense Department’s Acquisition and Sustainment Office of Strategy and Design, speaks at the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s seminar in Washington, March 27, 2018. FitzGerald discussed how DoD is reorganizing its acquisition, technology and logistics organization to improve its methods for doing business in support of the warfighter

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Washington, DC – Changes in the technology and business landscapes and worldwide threats are the driving forces behind the Defense Department realigning the way it does business to support the warfighter, the Pentagon officials say.

For those reasons, the Pentagon’s acquisition, technology and logistics organization was restructured Feb. 1 into two organizations: Acquisition and Sustainment, and Research and Engineering, each with an undersecretary.

Ben FitzGerald, director of the Acquisition and Sustainment Office of Strategy and Design, explained the ongoing, two-year process to an American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council seminar of industry members, here, March 27.

With the reorganization aimed at simplifying business, which was mandated by Congress in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, research and engineering will drive innovation and accelerate the advancement of US war-fighting capability, while acquisition and sustainment will deliver proven technology into the hands of the warfighter more quickly and affordably, according to the executive summary of an August report to Congress on the acquisition, technology and logistics reorganization.

Changing Service Authority

“Importantly from an AT&L perspective, we had traditionally had milestone decision authority,” FitzGerald said of the numerous changes the large-scale reorganization brings to DoD. “That has been delegated down to the [military] services. We now have the authority to create a new tier of acquisitioning … to do rapid prototyping [and] rapid fielding,” he added.

The effort is not about a reorganization chart, he said, adding, “[It’s seen as] major congressional reform and we will build that into the core of our organization.”

The reorganization will take time to figure out how to change the former acquisition, technology and logistics culture, to change how DoD does business and to change how the department works with industry, FitzGerald said.

Data-Driven Approach

“We want to take a data-driven approach,” he said, explaining that such an effort means DoD will look at a minimum of two levels of data. One is the performance of the actual acquisition system, and the other is the data associated with capability portfolios. Of the specific efforts to be undertaken in the reorganization, a focus on sustainment is one, he said.

“We really need to focus on sustainment and raising the prominence of sustainment,” FitzGerald said, noting that 70 percent of capability-related costs are about sustainment.

“An opportunity to innovate is usually in the sustainment phase,” he explained. “We need to figure out how to bring that community up front so it can influence how we design, so we can design for sustainment, so we have ways to prototype into sustainment, so we can think about the sustainment of [areas such as] software.”

Industry Support

FitzGerald called for support from industry in the reorganization undertaking.

“We’re going to need support to implement changes … and we’re going to need your recommendations about how to do what we’re doing, and constructive feedback when it appears that we’re not always headed in the right direction,” he said.

“[There’s] always risk associated with change. And we recognize that as we embark on this two-year process,” FitzGerald said of the reorganization.

“However, if our objective is to ensure ongoing military superiority of the United States of America, the greatest risk right now is to not change,” he added.

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