By Argie R. Sarantinos Perrin, CCDCSeptember 30, 2019
*Force modernization will be one of the topics CCDC will be presenting at the annual AUSA meeting, Oct. 14-16. Experts will be on hand to answer questions and provide resources and information to attendees.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- When the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command became part of the U.S. Army Futures Command earlier this year, its basic mission -- to discover and deliver technology -- did not change. CCDC did, however, initiate several reform efforts to better synchronize and integrate the command's research, development and engineering work to prepare for the move to AFC and the Future Force Modernization Enterprise.
Reform is a top priority for the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army, as well as part of the National Defense Strategy. The CCDC commanding general incorporated reform as one of the four lines of effort in his campaign plan, focused on business process and resource optimization. The plan was created in 2017 and continually updated as the Army focused on its modernization priorities and AFC emerged as a new Army command.
The Army has implemented reforms to free up time, money and manpower to support its number one priority -- readiness.
"We made innovative changes in operational concepts, policy, training methods, talent management and business processes to ensure we are aligned with the Army's reform efforts and modernization strategy," said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, CCDC commanding general. "These changes enabled a smooth transition to AFC and provided the foundation to develop and deliver better technology for Soldiers now and in the future."
Business reform, however, is not new to CCDC.
"We've been on a very deliberate path for the past three years," said Justin Johnson, CCDC deputy resource manager. "We started small by looking at best practices throughout the command, particularly how we justify workload and budgets. As we moved forward, we began looking at our complete end-to-end business processes in terms of how we manage funding and resources during our participation in Department of the Army programs that focused on our resource management practices. Based on the lessons learned, we began implementing resource standardization across the command in accordance with Maj. Gen. Wins' guidance for business reforms.
"Business process improvements have focused on key areas within people management, financial execution, accounting structure, and reimbursable support agreements and contracting to raise visibility of our collaboration with our strategic partners."
One of the best practices has become the backbone of CCDC financial planning and implemented across the command. The Financial Integrated Reporting Environment is an automated budgeting and execution tool that enables the command to document the budget requirements of the reimbursable work it executes for other Army entities and forecast upcoming support and associated costs. Developed by the CCDC Armaments Center, FIRE gathers financial information from thousands of areas and compiles it into manageable programs and cost categories, such as civilian labor, supplies, travel and equipment that can be easily reviewed and digested. An added feature is the ability to drill down to the lowest level to obtain detail, if requested by CCDC senior leadership and stakeholders.
"FIRE provides transparency and visibility to our stakeholders, as well as CCDC leadership. Now that we have everyone on the same system and we are standardizing processes, we can move into how the information is visualized as a senior leader decision enabler," Johnson said.
CCDC's most recent reform initiative was a federally funded Research and Development Center study to find alternative ways to fund research and development operations in the Army, which became known as the RAND study. One of the key outcomes of the RAND study was the formation of a Department of the Army Research, Development, Test and Evaluation rate board that was formed to provide transparency and auditability of Army RDT&E operations.
"The initial RDT&E rate board was the first time HQDA and key stakeholders saw the details and outputs of our reformed standardized business process," said John Willison, CCDC deputy to the commanding general. "In general, the stakeholders appreciated the process we made and the information we provided. We believe it was a significant step forward in transparency of our business operations."
The CCDC workforce consists of more than 14,000 Soldiers and civilian employees, including more than 10,000 scientists and engineers. They partner with academia, industry, international allies and other government agencies to provide agile and cost-effective technological solutions.
"We have seven very different Centers and a Lab in different geographic locations with eight unique missions, so standardizing the way each Center was conducting business and accounting for resources has been challenging," said Paul Dunaway, CCDC resource manager.
"Our intent since the inception of our business reform effort has been to improve financial operations while minimizing any operational mission impacts. The resource management staffs at the Army Research Laboratory and the seven Centers have been critical in this process. Their expertise of financial management and laboratory operations ensured we were minimizing mission disruption while collaboratively implementing incremental changes and improvements to business processes," Dunaway said.
While CCDC has focused largely on financial reform efforts, there have been additional reform efforts, such as updates to hiring policies and efforts to better utilize Science Technology Reinvention Laboratory flexibilities. Congress granted Department of Defense labs STRL authority to give them the flexibility necessary to recruit and retain the highly technical staff required for their complex and vital R&D missions. These efforts are ongoing and will complement business reforms.
Now that AFC is fully operational, CCDC is working hand-in-hand with AFC to continue business process reforms, including official documents and policies that will govern CCDC's financial operations and align with Army priorities.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), formerly known as the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), has the mission to lead in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. The command collaborates across the Future Force Modernization Enterprise and its own global network of domestic and international partners in academia, industry and other government agencies to accomplish this mission. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.