By Mr. Kinsey Kiriakos (ASA (ALT))November 20, 2019
"Speaking truth to power" is what Lieutenant General Paul A. Ostrowski said was among the greatest challenges that Program Managers and Contracting Officers in the U.S. Army currently face. Lt. Gen. Ostrowski, who is the Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA[ALT]), made the comment during remarks at an Acquisition Pre-Command Course held at the Pentagon on Monday, which was attended by Army Acquisition professionals.
"Army Senior Leaders will ask you to deliver capabilities in six months to a year, instead of years," explained Lt. Gen. Ostrowski. "What you have to do as PMs and Contracting Officers is assess the risk of failure and give the Senior Leaders an honest assessment. 'Sir, if we accelerate the timeline, there's a 70-80% chance of failure.' You need to speak truth to power and let them understand the associated risk."
Lt. Gen. Ostrowski made the remark after explaining the systemic and organizational changes that have unfolded as a result of the Army Modernization Strategy, which was launched in 2018. As a result of these changes, Lt. Gen. Ostrowski said PMs and Contracting Officers have more tools and flexibility to develop systems and capabilities and do so faster.
Congress recently provided the Army with more acquisition flexibility to support an accelerated fielding process. As a result, the Army has been leveraging Middle-Tier Acquisition Authority (MTA), which is a rapid acquisition process that focuses on delivering capability within two to five years. This is in addition to increasingly utilizing Other Transaction Authority (OTA) in acquisition to open competition to small and non-traditional defense contractors for the purposes of developing and testing prototypes.
While emphasizing the latitude provided by MTAs and OTAs, Lt. Gen. Ostrowski also noted that PMs and Contracting Officials must continue to be vigilant and account for each dollar. "There are no guarantees when it comes to taxpayer funding," Lt. Gen. Ostrowski said. "We shouldn't give lawmakers any reasons to cut our resources or limit our modernization efforts."