By Susan A. Merkner, IMCOM Public AffairsApril 29, 2019
Some of the experts who helped write the latest recommendations on streamlining defense acquisitions also helped explain them April 24 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Three commissioners from the Section 809 Panel were among the speakers who unpacked the intricacies of defense acquisition reform for 77 people at a presentation sponsored by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command's Acquisition Directorate.
The Section 809 Panel was established by the U.S. Congress in 2016 to address issues with the way the Department of Defense buys what it needs to equip its warfighters. The panel has published a three-volume final report that includes 98 recommendations aimed at changing the overall structure and operations of defense acquisition both strategically and tactically. The 16-member commission includes current and former senior acquisition representatives from the federal government, former military service members and industry representatives from the private sector.
Four speakers presented an overview of the Section 809 Panel recommendations, addressing topics such as streamlining and codifying acquisitions, the dynamic marketplace, small business, service contracting, workforce changes and IT.
IMCOM Senior Contracting Executive Delia A. Adams welcomed the guests and noted that some of the Section 809 Panel's recommendations already have been adopted by Congress and others are expected to be endorsed soon. Participants asked questions and offered opinions during the session.
"Some small businesses that were created specifically to work with the Department of Defense will need to change their business models to adapt to future changes, but the DOD's overall use of small business is expected to increase as a result of the panel's recommendations," said Darryl A. Scott, who served 34 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a major general.
Scott is a commissioner on the Section 809 Panel and recently retired as the Boeing Company's corporate vice president of contracts.
Dr. Terry Raney, a commissioner on the Section 809 Panel, said the reports released by the panel are designed to be used as conversation starters for defense acquisition transformation.
"We're expecting more winners than losers," said Raney, who has more than 45 years of acquisition, contracting and academic experience.
Raney served as a senior vice president and division group manager of the acquisition support group of CACI International. A board member and past president of the National Contract Management Association, he holds a doctoral degree in economics from Georgetown University.
Charlie E. Williams Jr., a commissioner on the Section 809 Panel who currently serves as president of the National Contract Management Association, said the panel's recommendations are bold and will challenge the way the government does business, but are necessary to keep pace with rapid changes in technology and warfighting capabilities.
"The next war will be a technology-based war, not tanks versus tanks," Williams said. "The U.S. must keep up with what our peer competitors are using. All systems must operate well for us to be successful."
He is president of C Williams, which offers strategic advice and support to the defense industry and government officials in acquisition planning, contract formation and general contract management processes.
Nick Tsiopanas, founder and president of ZYGOS Consulting, said the panel recommended the Federal Acquisition Regulation be updated to acknowledge the increasing number of capabilities that are sold as consumption-based solutions, and that these purchases are different than traditional service contracting.
"In the future, almost everything may be sold as a service -- on a consumption basis," Tsiopanas said.
The panel recommended the DOD speed up its acquisition processes because technology is changing rapidly, he said.
Agile software development, which has been a business standard for the past 10 years, offers a more dynamic and flexible process than the traditional waterfall method DOD typically uses, said Tsiopanas, whose Arlington, Virginia-based firm provides management and technology consulting with specialties in strategic planning and acquisition support.
Gilbert J. Duran, executive officer, IMCOM Acquisition Directorate, said those attending represented Mission Installation Contracting Command, Healthcare Contracting Command, U.S. Air Force Contracting, Small Business Administration, Non-appropriated Funds Contracting and Installation Management Command.
Participants were encouraged to get involved in the process by familiarizing themselves with the panel's reports, becoming active in the National Contract Management Association, and writing articles for professional journals and social media sites such as LinkedIn.