Acquisition Provisions in 2020 NDAA – 852 Special Pathways for Rapid Acquisition of Software Applications and Upgrades

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This provision directs the secretary of defense to streamline and coordinate the requirements, budget, and acquisition process in order to rapidly field software applications and software upgrades to embedded systems in a period of not more than one year from the time that the process is initiated.

It will also require the collection of data through continuous engagement with the users of that software, so as to enable engineering and delivery of additional versions in periods of not more than one year each.

We’ve talked earlier about the government’s commitment to innovation, shown through changes to the SBA’s Small Business Information and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Then a few years ago, the DoD began to pick up a third method called other transaction agreements (OTAs), which allow for more flexible, commercial–like, and novel business solutions than the Federal Acquisition Regulation. OTAs have been enormously successful in delivering technology fast, with rapid development and so forth, with the Army having spent something like 3-and-a-half billion dollars in FY 2018 under OTAs.

This provision 852 directs the secretary to begin to look at all sorts of ways to accelerate fielding acquisition specifically for software purchases and new software engineering, including embedded systems like weapons and simulators. This does bring up the same problem mentioned in Section 831 and elsewhere, which is the need for cybersecurity and integrity – important any time you’re building new stuff.

Acquisition innovation is likely to be a hot topic for the next several years, as DOD and the whole Government grapples with the effects of the rules and regulations that have burdened procurement processes and made the cost of responses perilously high. This will be a continuing part of the conversation throughout the GovCon community.

Watch this space for more on this topic.


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