Transcript: Media Roundtable with Mr. Douglas R. Bush 17 February 2022

By U.S. Army Public AffairsFebruary 24, 2022

Moderator: Well, good morning. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Ellen Lovett. I'm the public affairs specialist for the Army's Office of the Chief of Public Affairs. I will moderate today's discussion with Douglas R. Bush, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology. Today’s discussion is on the record. After Mr. Bush’s opening remarks, I will call on reporters individually. You may ask one question and one follow-up until each of you has had an opportunity, and then we will continue to field questions until we're out of time. We have about one hour.

Mr. Bush, thank you so much for having us and the floor is yours.

Douglas Bush: Good morning. I appreciate you guys coming today. It's a great honor for me to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. A hugely important job making sure Soldiers get the equipment they need to do their jobs, which is protecting the country and being a force for freedom. I'm grateful to President Biden, Secretary Austin, and Secretary Wormuth for the trust they’ve placed in me and to members of the Senate for confirming me. I was officially sworn in office on February 11th. In addition to ASA(ALT), the other things that come with the job is being Army acquisition executive, senior procurement executive, science advisor to the secretary and senior research and development official. So it's multiple jobs. I have the benefit of some idea of what's in store for me since I was acting [ASA(ALT)] last year for a period of time.

Sincere thanks, by the way, I just want to mention Karen Saunders, who filled in for me while my nomination was pending, as a senior official performing the duties. She did a great job. She's now back in PEO STRI working on good stuff for ASA(ALT). I look forward to working with her and everybody else.

The greatest strength we have here is the people who make up the acquisition workforce, 43,000. Those people are the ones who really get the work done. We here at headquarters provide leadership, oversight and policy, but the actual work of delivering stuff for Soldiers doesn't happen here. It happens out there at the PEOs and other places -- contracting as well. It's an exciting time for the Army going through a most significant transformation in terms of modernization in over 40 years. I see promising signs of success, but there's a lot more work to do.

My focus is on cooperation, coordination and unity of effort across the whole Army. So there are no ASA(ALT) programs. There are Army programs. So everything we do is part of a team -- us, AFC, Army Materiel Command as well, headquarters DA, and we work of course with OSD. It takes everybody working together, and I'm committed to that.

A few things of note that I want to work on. First is to keep up the good work we have on recruiting and retaining the talent we need to acquire things well. I'm amazed with the workforce we have, but that's going to be an effort to keep it up. Second is to keep the focus on speed of programs. The demand signal from certainly Congress has been about improving acquisition velocity while not forgetting the other important parts of acquisition -- cost and of course performance. All are important but speed has been the emphasis I've gotten from my leaders and I will continue to focus on that.

Third, we do have work to do on the area of software. It's a push across the department to do software better, and I'm going to be part of that push; so much more work to do there, more to follow.

In terms of security, we’ve got to get back to habits we had during the Cold War as far as keeping ourselves more secure against a sophisticated enemy. That applies to both cyber and supply chain, in particular in my world. Both our ongoing efforts. We're going to have to keep an eye on those, and I will emphasize those.

Another one I wanted to mention was my support for realistic operational testing. So for my many years on the Hill I worked on testing from a policy standpoint. I see it as an advantage of the United States that we have such high-fidelity testing. It's not a hindrance. Our stuff works, or is going to work, if something's wrong with it. Other countries don't do that. So, we need to build that in and not make it adversarial. It's got to be something that helps us do things better in acquisition. I'm committed to that working with the new director of operational testing.

Final thing worth mentioning is Congress. So, everything we do ultimately has to be supported by Congress doing its job to provide us with funding and oversight on behalf of the American people. And that is a critical area that I want to improve and make sure that we are being appropriately transparent and that members know what we're doing and can exercise their independent judgment. We will work with them to make sure that's the case, and I will personally make sure that's the case.

So just a few things worth mentioning and otherwise happy to take your questions.

Moderator: Thank you, sir. We are going to do something a little unusual today and start with somebody on the phone. Jen Judson, do you have a question for Mr. Bush?

Jen Judson: I do, of course I do. I have a couple. I will start with one, and we will see if you get around to me another time. I am wondering what are your thoughts about what happened with the first attempt of the OMFV competition. Are you satisfied or encouraged with the current path that we are on? Are you worried it’s now moving too slowly? Could we lose momentum and possibly congressional funding support as a result of that? What are your general thoughts about what happened and how we're moving forward?

DB: So as far as what occurred, that of course was long before I was here, the Army worked through requirements and issues with the bids they had, decided to kind of hit the reset button.

I think the current plan is appropriately paced and is a very thoughtful way to open the aperture to more than our traditional contractors and to look at what's possible. The phase we’re in is heavy on thinking through requirements for an actual program. So looking for Army Futures Command teamed with my PEO to continue that effort to refine requirements. So for right now, I'm comfortable with it.

Moderator: Jen, do you have a follow-up?

JJ: Sort of unrelated quick question. You mentioned in your goals that you wanted to ensure testing systems is realistic in order to identify and address problems early. So can you elaborate on programs in the recent past that have suffered from a lack of realistic testing? And what can the Army do now to inject more realism into its testing now? What are your first steps to sort of tackle that?

DB: So that'll be a team effort because of course the Army has a testing command that we work with that doesn't fall under me. So it's a cooperative effort and DOT&E of course. I don't think I have any examples of things where it wasn't realistically tested. I think areas of improvement are, for example, doing cyber testing earlier. That's something the whole department is working on and we are working through how to do that. So it's not just something you do at the very end. It's something you do along the way.

And then the Army, like the other services, as we are facing more and more sophisticated adversaries, we need ways to test against their capabilities. That often will end up in simulations. Those simulations will have to be very high-fidelity to make sure it's valid. So I think those two areas, simulations and cyber, are probably the areas where we can improve the most on testing -- working collaboratively with the testing community.

Moderator: Thank you, Jen. So now for someone in the room. Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg. Do you have a question?

Tony Capaccio: In your policy question for the Senate you talked about the Army’s got like 700 programs, mostly are well performing. In the past BAE Systems had issues with the AMPV and the Paladin... quality of welding. I wrote a lot about that at the time. What could they do broadly to right those two programs? Are there lessons to the industrial base from BAEs efforts?

DB: So broadly speaking actually, this is a great credit to my predecessor, Dr. Jette. He put together teams to go work with them to improve their manufacturing capability in a cooperative manner. I think it's bearing results right now -- both programs, AMPV and PIM -- production-wise are in much better shape than even when I arrived about a year ago. So that's my overall impression. The larger lesson is just the fragility of the manufacturing industrial base. It’s people, it’s supply chains, it's the back office of how people run factories, all of which have to be…. we count on our industry partners to modernize those things. But, you know, they live in a competitive environment. They've got their own private companies. They have profits to make. We have to be good partners with them but also ensure that they can produce when we sign a contract with them. So I think we just need to continue to make sure we're having those discussions. And if there are limitations on things, we need to know in advance and try to get ahead of them.

TC: Is welding… when I went up there I was surprised that welding is like a single point of failure -- not having enough qualified welders in the area. Is that an issue that you guys are trying to grapple with? Qualified welders in an area where you're building?

DB: So that particular skill set is not, is in very high demand, kind of a low-density, high-demand skillset across the industrial base and it's not just us -- the Navy with submarines, aircraft…. So we, we are part of that competitive pool to try to get that talent. So the short answer is yes, it is. There's an automation process that over time might reduce the human workload there, but for now in a lot of cases it is still very talented people that have to do those things.

TC: Thank you.

Moderator: Now, Lee Hudson, Politico. Do you have a question for us?

Lee Hudson: I do. Thanks for doing this.

I had a question about the top line. It's been reported that the pass back was sent to the Pentagon on Friday, and I just didn't know if you have received that. And yeah, if you could provide any detail there.

DB: I really can't. Unsurprisingly, the White House doesn't send me anything, but I read the reports as well. And I believe all that churn is working through, working to get to the numbers for 23 and hopefully get us on track to get the request over to Congress. (audio disrupted)

LH: Yeah, no worries. And a quick follow-up. I know the Secretary of the Army, she'd said that the Army is looking at scrutinizing modernization efforts for cuts, and I just wanted to understand more about what that would look like from where you sit? Does that mean actually cutting programs, or does that mean buying fewer numbers of equipment?

DB: So, the first thing I'd say just as context, the Army's always doing that. The Army is endlessly running drills to examine its modernization efforts based on priorities that might change or program performance and other needs across, you know, a very large Army. So I think the chief was pointing out something that we're constantly doing.

But ultimately, he, and ultimately the Secretary, would own any major decisions on significant changes to programs. There are many dials to be turned -- programs, timelines can be adjusted. If the Army's force structure changes, we would have to adjust how many things we produce. If industry has challenges, that can be part of the discussion. So I think what I'd characterize is routine Army thought about its future and how modernization fits. Modernization is, I believe the Chief and Secretary said, it's not the only thing being looked at. They're looking at everything, and I think that's appropriate.

Moderator: Thank you. Ashley Roque, what do you have for us?

Ashley Roque: Hi. So from your vantage point, like the Secretary and the Chief have said, you know, look at the modernization programs. It's easy to take cuts where things are behind schedule or over cost, but there are programs like IVAS or OMFV that have been over cost or if they've encountered problems but they've been retooled. So, sort of from where you're sitting, how do you view that? Like when programs are troubled at what point do you cut them versus retool them or do a…..

DB: Well, that's the art of managing acquisition programs, is knowing when something simply needs to be adjusted versus taken in a significantly different direction. I am very comfortable with almost every program right now, in terms of its general direction of travel, the requirements being reasonable and that our cost estimates are pretty good.

Now, reality will start hitting. So, if I could speak more generically, I believe in my testimony I talked about a challenge we’re facing - but it’s a good challenge to have - is moving from prototyping to actual production. Production is hard. Prototyping you might be able to build five of something. Now you have to build 5,000 and the quality has to be there. It has to be reliable. All these things you don't have to worry about when we're building a small number of things. We're going to run into issues moving from prototypes to production -- normal. I think the important thing is to be data-focused, you know data-centric in terms of how we make those decisions and the recommendations I give. We need solid information to make decisions about changing directions were we to do that. And based on what I've seen so far, that's what we're doing. So not everything's going to work out perfectly. And that's okay. If you look at history of a lot of programs, they had stumbles early but eventually we got it -- because it was important we kept at it. But at the same time, you know, there is a knowledge point sometimes where you do have to go in different directions. Right now, I'm broadly comfortable with all the programs.

AR: I was going to ask you about sort of the approach right now as you're coming in and then waiting, to submit the budget requests. From a tactical track, I don't know if you did it or what's happened where there was like a postponement of the request for prototype proposal. Is that indicative of a cut that's coming, or is that sort of a broader approach that these RFPs or RPPs have been put on hold while you iron out the budget?

DB: So, first of all, that program, the prototyping effort that that particular release is referring to is going to continue. So I would call it a minor pause because of some internal discussions about exactly how we're going to do the prototyping effort. No, I didn't pause it. But I think you'll see news on that soon.

AR: So, that's not related to the budget?

DB: No.

AR: Thanks.

DB: The FY 22 budget has money in it for that prototyping effort.

Moderator: Thank you. Todd South, Military times.

Todd, can you hear us?

All right. I’m going to skip then to Lauren Williams, Gov Exec.

Lauren Williams: Hi, thanks so much for doing this. I was hoping if you could expound on your comments about what you wanted to do with software. I know in your, at least your responses to advance policy questions, you mentioned that you would want to put forward some policies, guidelines, standards with respect to software development. So I'm hoping you can give us some insight on what you are hoping to do there.

DB: Sure. So, first of all, importantly, Congress provided new much more flexible software acquisition authority in previous NDAAs. That has now, only just now, worked its way through OSD and we published our new software acquisition policy last year to take advantage of the new software acquisition pathway. It seeks to get away from the waterfall approach to a more integrated iterative modern approach to software -- trying to take advantage of the way industry is doing software.

That's a work in progress. We have six software efforts that are in that new acquisition pathway. They are smaller efforts. We're hoping to learn from those. It will be also an ongoing discussion with Congress in terms of how we're using that authority and whether they're comfortable with a different approach where the funding might have to be more flexible to allow us to do it that way versus the more traditional approach. For example, I don't believe the private sector distinguishes between R&D and procurement of software, but we do. So, does that make sense anymore? I'm not so sure. So, I think that that will be a discussion with Congress to make sure they're comfortable with how we're proposing to use the authorities and whether or not, you know, we can think differently about how we budget for software, which will be critically important.

The second part of it is just talent in the Army and in Army acquisition and having the right kind of people with knowledge about software who can do oversight and run programs. We have a lot of software talent across the Army. A lot. Army acquisition officers are among the most highly educated in the Army, but we've got to leverage all the talent across the Army to get better software. So there's a people side to it. There's an authority side. And there's a money side. So, I can't say I've got a master plan, but I want to develop a plan to, as I said, get us better than we are at doing that. I hope that helps a little.

LW: It does, and I want to follow up on that on the talent part. Where does the Army Software Factory come in? Because they've been kind of churning folks out. And so I'm interested in how your office is utilizing, I guess, that talent pool.

DB: So, the Army Software Factory is a pilot program that's going to run at least five years, quite likely possibly longer. I think it's early days. So the cadres moving through there are learning some very valuable skills about how to do software. And I think the Army's going to get folks from the Software Factory who, you know, in other words kind of graduate. We're going to put them in different places across the Army and then see how they can contribute. I mean, I'm excited at the potential, for example, to have more people in my PEOs who know about software and how to write it helping advise the people trying to buy it. I'm all for that. So I think it's too early to judge it one way or the other, but I'm optimistic that it could be a way for us to spread more talent across the Army in many places, my area of the Army but also others.

Moderator: Thank you. Andrew?

Andrew Eversden: Yes, thank you. So you previously discussed in your confirmation hearing about aggressive timelines of the modernization programs, and I'm kind of curious how you expect future budgets to, if the money isn't there to impact those timelines. Is that something you worry about?

DB: Well, as the Army acquisition executive I always worry about money, but I think we will earn additional funding to field things if we show, you know as an Army, that we can get things through R&D, prototype, Soldiers like it, get it in the field. So we’ve got to put some points on the board. I think we will. And I think that will enable us to compete with all the other needs of the Army. I'm clear-eyed about the Army has many needs to ensure we get enough funding and modernization to achieve the goals. You know, the Secretary and Chief have to worry about the whole Army, not just modernization. We give ourselves our best chance if we perform, and that's my goal.

AE: How do you put those points on the board?

DB: So, right now it's getting things out of prototyping, out of that stage actually through production and into the field. So we've got a lot of efforts that are right at that tipping point over the next couple of years. So that will be my focus. I think a lot of great work was done before I got here to get us to this point. So now it's moving out from here to get it done.

AE: Thank you.

Moderator: Okay, great. Jennifer Dimascio?

Jennifer Dimascio: So there was a report that came out on the industrial base earlier this week. It raised some questions about intellectual property and how that will be handled. What's your view and vision for how to treat intellectual properties? How do you balance competition on one hand with the need to move quickly?

DB: Yes. I read the report last night actually -- it was actually very, very good, made a lot of great points. So, in terms of intellectual property, there was a lot of work before I got here done on that. So Congress made some significant changes back when I worked on the committees actually. That's now been put into place in addition to some other work. The Army, I think, in 2018, updated its intellectual property policy to modernize how we look at it in coordination with OSD.

My personal view is that the Army should get the intellectual property it needs, but only that far. So intellectual property is something of value to companies. The government should get what it needs to do its job, but there is a balance between asking for everything which can scare off people who don't want to work for the government, and asking for too little. So it's really a case-by-case thing. The big thing we need is…. most acquisition programs, most of the money is spent in sustainment. So after you buy it the dollars are generally… corporately, we spend more on maintaining things than buying things over decades. The IP to enable that sustainment in an affordable way is absolutely critical, and I think there's a lot of great work with modular open systems, for example, to try to get the best of both worlds. Make it sustainable but also make it upgradeable with competition down the road. So, I think it's really now just implementing the new policies on the books, which I think the report was speaking to as what we're going to have to do. So, I think it's a balance point on every single program. We just have to look really carefully and have the talent in the government to evaluate it appropriately. And I like what I'm seeing so far.

JD: Is there a specific example you're thinking of?

DB: In terms of?

JD: Of programs where you like what's happening?

DB: Well, we are, for example, modular open systems, for example, on an aircraft -- the Apache, which is amazing and the best attack helicopter in the world, is a very much contractor-owned IP situation. Terrific aircraft, has done amazing things for the Army. The new aircraft we’re looking at, the MOSA concept in terms of major subsystems be it perhaps, you know, radars, engines, avionics…. we want that to enable both faster upgrades, but also a competitive space for those upgrades. So we're not locked into just one vendor over the whole life of the program. I think also on that [unintelligible]that's another major feature of that architecture versus where we are. So it's really looking to the future, how do we position ourselves. We have more flexibility and maintain competition through the life of the program while not going too far, like I said, to where programs aren't viable for companies anymore.

Moderator: Matt Beinart on the phone.

Matt Beinart: Hi, thank you for doing this. This question is kind of on the flip side of the modernization funding question, but during the last budget cycle, you know, we heard a lot about how there was kind of all the low-hanging fruit picked off from legacy and enduring systems to do that kind of shifting of funds towards fully funding modernization. And I think previously you said, you know, the Army has to accept some sort of risk there with planned program reductions. So what's your assessment of the ability to continue kind of pulling off from legacy and enduring programs? I'm sure we'll see some of this reflected in the upcoming budget, but how do you kind of assess that in terms of accepting some of that risk, that flexibility there in terms of fully funding modernization?

DB: Well first, I agree with the Secretary, her statements about how some of the…. they weren't easy decisions, by the way, but they were, perhaps easier than we might face otherwise in terms of accepting risk in some things and to promote and protect funding for higher priorities. That's an iterative process. That happens every year. I think though that the Secretary is right. The easy things have been done. You hit a point in certain portfolio areas where if you go any lower you are putting the industrial base for that portfolio at risk. So that's the kind of thing you have to think through, not just individual programs that you can talk yourself into an adjustment in a given year. You have to take a step back and take a broader view to make sure that we are retaining the capacity in industry we need in some of those areas that maybe aren't as high priority, but they're still super important to the Army.

MB: Great, and this is kind of a separate quick follow-up area, but kind of coming into this role, what's your assessment of the CR impact so far? I mean, if a budget is kind of put together by mid-March, that'll be six months at this point into the fiscal year. So how are you kind of thinking about that and your assessment?

DB: So having seen it from both sides, I can tell you that continuing resolutions are not helpful to the department, but the department has ways, found ways to mitigate the worst effects. I think if appropriations stay on the timelines being discussed, I think broadly speaking the major modernization programs will be okay. Were it to be a year-long, I think I would echo what the Vice Chief of Staff said in his testimony. There are numerous efforts, many, many new starts as well, that would be significantly hindered. So if things stay on track, I think broadly speaking the Army will be, modernization programs will be okay, but there are still negative effects to long CRs. It just slows down decision-making. It inhibits our ability to, for example, execute funds on time. So we've been able to mitigate the worst effects, but they're still, it's still bad. So, I'm very hopeful that things work out on the timelines being discussed. That would be great.

Moderator: Jon Harper, National Defense.

Jon Harper: Thanks for doing this round table. You know, a number of former Defense officials and think tank folks have said that DoD needs to acquire hypersonic weapons in very large quantities to have a strategic effect -- perhaps, you know, hundreds or even thousands. Do you agree with that assessment? And from an Army perspective, do you have kind of a ballpark number of how many hypersonics the Army needs to acquire to achieve its ends?

DB: So how many of something to acquire in terms of the military need is fundamentally a requirements issue. So, that is not my primary job. I have a voice in that, but I would look to others, particularly on the uniform side and the, you know, the military warfighting side, to make those determinations. Our job in acquisition is primarily to -- once that's determined find a way to acquire it the best way we can. It's obviously an important new capability area. The Army, as you know, has efforts there that are major efforts, very significant funding. I think the Army has a plan that it’s executing on. Those discussions could, depending how they play out, lead us to different types or numbers, but I think it's early to say that. We are focused on delivering this first battery on schedule, and that right now is my number-one focus, is getting that.

JH: And just a quick follow-up. You know, how would you assess the state of the industrial base now in terms of being able to build prototypes but also, you know, going into this kind of large-scale production of these systems? You noted earlier kind of the challenges between the other transitions of prototyping to mass production.

DB: So, you know, we are, and actually Gen. Thurgood at RCCTO is doing some great work leveraging the nascient industrial base there with some government elements and some academic elements to start building up that capacity -- also working with the Navy, by the way. It's really a joint program. Early days. You know, whether that, how we could ramp that into production over time remains to be seen. However, I'm confident the United States can do this if we put our mind to it. We've done more complicated things than this. So I think you can get there if it's important.

JH: Thank you.

Moderator: Ethan Sterenfeld, IWP News?

Ethan Sterenfeld: Hey, thanks for doing this today. I wanted to ask about… in some policy questions before your confirmation hearing you said that you would strike an appropriate balance between flexibility and oversight for OTAs. Specifically, like, what does that mean? Will there be dollar cut-offs for different levels of oversight?

DB: So, other transaction authority contracts are an important tool to give us more flexibility, especially in reaching non-traditional defense contractors and making adjustments to contracts in ways that let us be a bit more dynamic. So, OTAs are not new. Created in the 50s. Worked our way through the process and DoD started using them more for R&D, so this is an expansion of something the department knows how to do. The primary issue is we have to make sure we have sufficient transparency and all the metrics Congress would expect us to have to know how those contracts are performing. So what cost trends are, for example, or when, you know, if things are going well or bad. So I think it's simply we have oversight work to do on the government side to use those appropriately, and I'm broadly pleased with what I see, but it's an ongoing discussion to make sure that we're using the authority responsibly, which is what I was really getting at. It's a big deal that Congress gave us more leeway to use those. So I'm just trying to be cautious at the same time, using them where it makes sense.

ES: Okay, and then I wanted to ask also, unrelatedly, about a DARPA program that's going to transition to the PEO aviation with autonomy for the Black Hawk helicopter that uses proprietary Sikorsky technology. Will the Army restrict aircraft autonomy to Army owned IP like it has for ground vehicle robotics?

DB: I can't speak to that specific effort. I'd have to dig into it more, but you touch on an important point which is innovation in the private sector in transitioning it to a government use and that issue of IP is an important one. I think, I really would want to take things on a case-by-case basis because there are times where something is so urgently needed that we can accept the risk on the intellectual property. There's other cases where we have time to think it through and do it in a way that we don't end up in an intellectual property trap. So I think I would not want to have a blanket policy on such things. I'd want to have a really thoughtful approach one at a time.  But we can get back to you with more on that particular effort…. PEO Aviation can get back to you with more.

ES: Thank you.

Moderator: Okay. Let's throw it back to the phone lines and see if Todd South made it back.

Todd, can you hear us?

JJ: Todd had to step out. This is Jen Judson.

Moderator: Okay, great. Well, then we will take it back to the top. Jen Judson, do you have another question for us?

JJ: I’m okay, thank you.

Jackson Barnett: This is Jackson Barnett with Fed Scoop. I wasn’t called on the first round. May I jump in with a question?

Moderator: Oh, yes, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you in the roll call.

JB: Thank you, thank you so much. So, Congress recently established a commission to examine the budgeting process. If they were to call you to ask for your candid advice on what the entire PPBE process should look like to enhance the agility of acquisition what would you tell them?

DB: I believe, first of all they're assembling a very impressive team of folks on that commission, and I think it's important work. My main point would actually be from my previous career in Congress is that any discussions about PPBE have to integrate Congress’ views on the subject because this entire process exists to produce a budget request for the Congress to consider. So any changes we think about making there, for example, in terms of additional flexibility Congress has to be on board with. So that would be my advice just to integrate Congress in the discussion. I assume that's the plan. So that is going to be critical. We can't operate here in the department of defense in a vacuum with regard to issues regarding different types of money, flexibilities with money, budget line structures, reprogramming authority - all of that is a cooperative endeavor with Congress. So that would be my main concern. I'm sure they're going to do that given the lineup.

JB: To follow up on what you mentioned with software, you talked about some of the new authorities you've been given, do you need other authorities to achieve the type of agility that you want to see within the Army or do you just need to implement the new authorities you have into the policies that you hope to enact?

DB: So, as I said, it's a little early in my look at that. As of right now, I believe we have the authorities we need. It's a question of using them well. That I think is the main issue.

Debi Dawson: Mr. Bush, We’ve been experiencing this pandemic for a couple of years now. We were talking about that with a couple of the reporters before we got started. What are some of the success stories from the ASA(ALT) community?

DB: If you guys don't mind, yeah, I can tell you. It’s something I wasn't really aware of even when I was in Congress and I came here is the amazing work done by Army acquisition and contracting people supporting federal response to COVID. All the vaccine work, therapeutics, medical supplies, acquisition of those, the billions and billions provided by Congress and spent. Army acquisition professionals and Army contracting professionals have been the lead actually making those contracts happen. Particularly in 2020, they used every trick in the acquisition and contracting book and some that aren't to do those things amazingly quickly. So, it shows that when there was a true crisis this country can rally and the Army can do things incredibly fast and we did. It’s kind of a quiet success story. Those folks don't talk about their amazing work, but it's been a, it's a huge deal, and I was so proud to learn that when I got here. I am privileged to lead those folks, most of whom work either at the joint program executive office or in Army Contracting Command. So, absolutely worth mentioning. Thank you, Debi.

DD What about some of the equipment that has been fielded with all the PEOs?

DB: So, I think somebody alluded to it earlier. I think as of this morning it's like we have like 503 programs - that actually changes a little (laughter) A lot of them are quiet success stories. They just get a requirement, especially smaller ones. [Unintelligible] They figure it out. They work with industry. They get stuff to field. It works fine. And it's not a story, but it still matters to Soldiers. So I asked yesterday as we were getting ready just, you know, ballpark how many individual pieces of equipment have we fielded to the Army over the last year? And it's tens of thousands. It's a huge number….

Tony Capaccio: ….tens of thousands of individual pieces or tens of thousands of….

DB: …. individual pieces of equipment.

Tony Capaccio: Really?

DB: If you just look at everything we field. Keep in mind, there's a lot of very small things…

TC:  Yeah

DB: and some very large things but I mention it because there's this turn of good work going on quietly in Army Acquisition that we don't talk about that much that I want…. It's not me doing the work - it’s others and I want them to get credit for all that work they do. We also have been doing things on a rapid basis to still support forces that are deployed. A lot of that goes on behind the scenes or classified work, but that is also very important work that gets done every day to make sure good things are provided to troops whose lives are on the line. And that's another thing that I wasn't quite as aware of when I got here, but I see it now every day and it's really important work. I just want to thank my team for that.

Moderator: Tony, do you have a question?

TC: Yeah, you mentioned we have a lot, we have a lot of things at the tipping point going from prototyping to fielding. Can you give us three or four examples that we could hold you to maybe a year from now to get a sense of metrics, what will be success?

DB: Sure, I'm sure you will! So, in the soldier field we have our two biggest efforts going - Ashley mentioned it. IVAS is one and then next generation squad weapon so those are both in that stage where we're getting ready to try to field them in quantity. So those are big ones. Mobile protected firepower program is coming up on a milestone C so that will be a transition from a rapid prototyping to a real milestone C production effort….

TC: ...roughly, when will that source selection take place? You know, roughly?

DB: Well, the milestones C is scheduled for later in this year. I think June - it's in the [inaudible] docs so that's, that's still on track. So the source selection would be right up against that.

TC: The June-ish timeframe.

DB: As far as I know right now. We can get back to you, Tony.

TC: Good, good.

DB: So that's one in the combat vehicle portfolio.

We've got several others. The broader Army effort, if you look at all the programs we have, is

fielding vastly more capacity in the long range fires and air defense, air and missile defense. So those areas. So like if picking from two - the new radar for Patriot, the awkwardly named LTAMDS. And by the way, I'm going to work on program names. (laughter) We have a lot of acronyms. So, PrSM Increment 1 Missiles which we had a requirement to field in early, an emergency kind of early capability but also following on with PrSM Increment 1. So, so if you look across the range, there's a lot of things that are in that zone - in particular, fires, air defense, and a few ground vehicle things.

TC: Would the long-range hypersonic weapon be one of those?

DB: If you look at the timeline for that first battery yeah, its aggressive. It's, you know, FY 23, I believe. That is on a very aggressive timeline.

Moderator: Hi Jared, thank you for joining us.

Jared Serbu: Yeah, thanks. Thanks for doing this. I wanted to go back to your point on color of money and software. It seems like Congress has actually invited you to put some points on the board in that area to with a BA 8 colorless money pilots. The Army seems to have been a little bit shy about using that. I think you've only requested authority for one program so far. Does the Army need to test that out in some other areas?

DB: Well, we certainly need to, to the extent we can, further explore the BA 8 flexible funding pilot to show what we can do and maybe open the aperture with Congress for more, you know, more authority in that way. I think there's some good efforts underway there, but it's certainly one of the things I wanted to try to do. That was a big deal for Congress to even create that pilot. And yeah, I would like to see the Army be part of it.

JS: Do you have any insight into why relatively few, really only one, was requested so far? Is that more of a negotiation at the OSD level? Or is there a concern that we want to be careful how much we ask Congress to approve?

DB: So, in detail, I don't have an answer for you. I’d have to look into that. I'm sure there's a good reason. And it is, there are others involved. You know, OSD gets a say, but that's one I could get back to you on if you don't mind.

JS: Sure, thanks.

Moderator: All right, great. Lee Hudson from Politico. Are you still on the line?

LH: I am yeah. I have one follow-up question and it's related to hypersonic weapons. I know, Heidi Shyu has talked a lot about lowering that price point and I just didn't know if that's something that you're concerned about as well and if you've been talking to the various companies about that?

DB: So, concern about affordability is always a concern, but given where we are with that it is very early. We are not in any kind of mass production yet. That'll be a conversation though when we transition that program from rapid prototyping to production at scale. But no, I've not had any conversations like that yet, but Ms. Shyu pointed out a very valid concern. You know, as good as a capability can be, we have to be able to afford it and good that she's got her eye on that ball. She's looking across the whole DoD enterprise and I just have the Army part. I think we're a little early there to have those kinds of discussions, but it's certainly something we're looking at as we work on transitions.

LH: Okay. Thank you.

Moderator: So checking on the phone lines. Did Ellie Kaufman from CNN make it onto the phone lines?

Okay, great. All right, Jon Harper, National Defense, do you have anything else?

JH: Sure. Just, you know, going back to software acquisition. In future budget cycles, do you anticipate that the Army will be requesting more funding for software acquisition like relative to what it's been requesting in recent years or is it more just utilizing authorities, sort of changing maybe the way it's budgeting versus just the actual amount of money you're spending?

DB: So, there's a lot of good work going on across the Army and it's not just in ASA(ALT) about the whole range of where software lives and how we pay for it. For example, once we acquire some software you have to sustain it. Sustainment is an Army term, but I mean, you know, upgrading patching that kind of thing. How we manage that and where it's managed is being looked at, and I think there's good work to be done there. There's efforts underway to look at Enterprise Business Systems to try to achieve savings there while modernizing. So I wouldn't say it's an area where there might be more money because there’s already a lot of money, but I think there's a lot of efforts, not just mine, underway. For example, Raj Iyer, the Army CIO, is doing some really good work on data standards and how we think about Enterprise Business Systems and how we can do that better. So, I think it's a bigger, certainly bigger story than just what we're doing, but we're part.

JH: Thank you.

Moderator: Do you have a follow up?

JH: No.

Moderator: Okay. Ashley?

AR: I wanted to go back to CTT. You said you wanted to, you are looking at the way to do the prototype phase of it. Could you provide us more context of what you're looking for? Is it just for that program or is it sort of a look, a broader look at how you do prototyping, competitions, etc.?

DB: So I think with good initiatives I came into under way here to early, very early in these efforts, to bring the Army community of interest together to talk about okay, we're going to start this prototyping effort, but then what. So, have that conversation, start those conversations earlier than…. what you don't want to see is of course prototyping and then not be in a position to take advantage of success. So I think we're doing, for example, acquisition and shaping panels here at ASA(ALT) to bring the requirements community, the costing community and others into the discussion earlier. And you know, you can't answer all the questions up front. Sometimes you just don't know how much something is going to cost until you do some experimentation and prototyping and that's a good thing. The important thing is we think through in time how long a prototyping effort should last or how big a scale it could be because it could be 3, it could be 30. And then what a transition might look like and where would that fit in the Army's overall, you know, priority efforts. So not prototyping for prototyping sake but prototyping with a purpose which I think is what we're doing, broadly speaking. I like that we certainly got an emphasis from Congress to do that and support for that funding and that's a huge help and hopefully Congress can maintain that support for thoughtful prototyping so we learn something before we just embark on a big program.

Moderator: Andrew?

AR: I had a follow-up.

DB: Okay

AR: IVAS, sort of the competition…. you guys went ahead and awarded a production contract before you finished operational testing. Could you talk about any maybe lessons learned from that sort of as you work with the non-traditional defense sector and things, you know, lessons learned from that?

DB: Sure. So, one lesson, and this is where this ongoing conversation with Congress, they gave us authority to do things like rapid prototype, rapid field outside of the normal acquisition system. Now we still have to do all that acquisition work at some point - the sustainment planning, reliability, combat effectiveness testing. It's not that we don't have to do that work. They just gave us more flexibility in how we sequence those things. So, this is a bit of a prototype, if you will, of using that new authority. I'm confident of success. We have, you know, an operational test coming up in May, I think the decision to pause it and improve it before we went to that….I was involved in that….. I think that was the right call. I think an example of the flexibilities we've been given and trying to use them to the maximum extent possible in a responsible way. So I think if we can get success there, it'll lay groundwork for future efforts that are like that.

Now, how is that effort different than traditional for example? Like you said, the sequence of events you described is not exactly how we’ve done things in the past. Not by the old book. But if it's done well and if it's done in coordination with Congress in terms of providing transparency to what we're doing I think that's an example of a more flexible approach that Congress has said they want. It might get bumpy in places - new technology often gets bumpy in places. I think that's a good example. And sometimes with prototypes you're going to find that they lead you to a first version of something that isn't all exactly what you hoped but it lays the groundwork for something better in the future as well as we build new versions of things. So I think the Chief of Staff has talked about this in terms of the alpha model of a Black Hawk is very different than what we're building today. That's okay. Because the alpha model was still way better than the UH1 that it replaced. So, that's another thing is thinking of capabilities in terms of it's not perfect, but it's better for Soldiers than what they have - that's an important distinction that we try to analyze. Hope that helps.

AR: Thank you.

AE: Yeah. Back to my previous question. So, you mentioned putting points on the board amongst the modernization priorities and those 24 programs that are set to be in the hands of Soldiers by fiscal 23, but some of those other programs - FARA, FLRAA, OMFV - kind of have longer timelines. So what do those programs need to do to sort of prove their worth of that long-term investment that some people are afraid are going to get cut in future budgets?

DB: Well, I mean, like all programs, you know, we need our industry partners we’re working with to perform on cost and schedule - cost and schedules still matter. So I think that's the main thing, and it's not unusual for an aircraft program, for example, to take longer than something like a new rifle. So I think it's more a case of just if the Army still has a requirement for that capability in the future and the program is performing well in terms of staying, you know, closely on track then I think all those things will compete very well because the Army, as of now, it still needs all those things. But there's always a tension there between things further out and things closer in, but you can't completely discount things just because they're a little ways down the road. And I think this is the difficult judgments the Secretary has to make, but I think she's looking at exactly the right issues.

Moderator: Okay, we only have time for one or two more questions. Lauren Williams, Gov Exec, do you have anything for us?

LW: No, I'm good. Thank you so much for doing this.

Moderator: All right, great. Thank you. Ethan. IWP?

ES: Yeah, I’d like to follow up on the IVAS. You said that it's basically the alpha model and will have future upgrades in the future. Then why are we spending like 22 billion dollars on the alpha model rather than a smaller amount now and then more in the future?

DB: So, I don't think we're going to spend that much.

ES: Okay

DB: Understand that contract is an IDIQ contract. That's the ceiling. That's if we hypothetically bought everything that was allowed in the contract. But that contract is actually quite sophisticated. It gives us points along the way where we can adjust what we're buying in cooperation with the vendor. So there's no plan to buy 22 billion of the version that's being tested right now.

ES: So, but the…

DB: …that’s what the contract would hypothetically allow. It was written that way.

ES: …but the FY 22 budget request still did ask for about a billion dollars in IVAS procurement, and I know that was before the delay, but…

DB: Yes.

ES: …at that time did it seem like it was worth spending a billion dollars on a program that hadn't been tested?

DB: Well, you know, when that budget was formulated where the program was, it was anticipating success and we would be able to ramp up quickly and get that funding on contract. That was built into the request. Reality occurs and things happen after the request goes to Congress. As you know, Congress has asked a lot of questions and is doing oversight on that which they should. It is what I used to do. They should be doing that - asking hard questions and working with us. It was perhaps a little optimistic, but at the same time, I think it reflected an importance of focusing on equipment for individual Soldiers. You know, rifles that don't, body armor that don't always get the attention of perhaps a new aircraft or tank. So I think it reflected the best of intentions to maintain a focus on Soldier equipment modernization. We are going to have to make adjustments depending on what Congress does in 22.

Tony Capaccio: Can I ask you one on FLRAA?

DB: Sure.

TC: What impressions did you have of that program when you are on the hill in terms of whether it was going to go the way of the Comanche or and then conversely now that you're in and read in, what gives you comfort, if you have comfort, that it's not going to go the way of the Comanche?

DB: I'm sorry, which one?


DB: With the L or without the L? That's another naming issue! (laughter) (group chatter)

TC: With the L.

DB: With the L.

TC: With the L.

DB: Well. First of all, I can't really talk much about it. It is in source selection.

TC: I realize that but broadly…

DB: The requirement for a new aircraft with the kind of capabilities we aspire to I think is, I think there's a lot under that in terms of analysis the Army's done about how it wants to operate differently. I think the Chief, in particular, speaks very well and detailed about this. So I think the requirement makes a lot of sense to me personally. You know, we're in the middle of source selection. It's a, you know, it'll be a big leap if we can get it done in terms of what the Army can do with rotary wing aviation.

Speaker: Okay. Is it still on track for April through June awarded, third quarter of FY 22 award?

DB: I can't cite you a date but I'm not aware of any delay right now as opposed to what you would have seen in the budget request.

Speaker: Okay. Thank you.

DB: I’m not aware of any additional delay.

TC: Okay.

Moderator: Can we take one more?

Jennifer DiMascio: And what about FARA? That's something analysts have suggested might be delayed. Is that something that might either be punted or go the way of Comanche?

DB: So, it's a, first of all, program that’s interesting in that, you know, we've got this, this prototyping activity that's running a little overlap with what's going to be the weapon system pull up capability development - way too early to talk about delay. I think, you know, the ‘22 reflected the Army's position on the program's current schedule, but like everything it has to, we will see how it's doing and we'll make adjustments if we have to. But for now the Army still has a requirement for it. We have two good efforts underway by the CFT on the prototyping and my PEO, in terms of weapon system that are I think working well together. So I think that was, you know, people talking about way down the road could things change? Of course, but so could a lot of other things. So it's still a very high priority program for the Army.

Moderator: Well, to stay on our timeline, sir. I think that's all the questions that we're going to be taking.

DB: Okay. So, briefly, just first of all, thank you all. Transparency, as much as we can with the press, is important to me. The American people have a right to know what we're doing. You guys are a huge part of that. So we can’t always tell you everything, but I do want to make sure that we're being as transparent as we can so that, you know, we can answer your questions. I'm personally committed to that.

The last thing I'll say is, I alluded to it before, acquisition in the Army is a team effort. It's not just us - AFC, AMC in particular are super important, but also my partner's here at HQDA and OSD which under the current regime with the laws, changes that were made only one Army program has its milestone authority still at the OSD level.

Tony Capaccio: Really? Which one is that?

DB: Everything else has been delegated. IBCS. (group chatter) So, the rest were delegated previously and we greatly appreciate that, but we have to perform and work well with OSD, make sure they have the information they need to maintain that. So, that's something I'd… cooperation with our OSD partners, currently Mr. Hunter at ANS and Ms. Shyu at R&E, is vital to making sure that kind of trust and delegation is maintained for the Army.

TC: That’s interesting.

Moderator: Alright, well thank you all for joining us. Some of you may have some additional questions. Please feel free to follow up with me via telephone or email. This concludes today's event.