The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment is rapidly transitioning from the former OUSD Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to an organization focused on enabling our services to use innovative business practices tailored to their needs. AT&L, the enterprise’s former moniker, was a congressionally mandated organizational change for the purpose of streamlining business processes to speed capability delivery to the war fighter and maximize value for the taxpayer. On Sept. 4, 2018, we had our first official day as A&S.

Though Department of Defense leadership has changed, our mission to support the war fighter through acquisition innovation remains constant. Over the past year, our team has worked to refine the A&S strategy using the National Defense Strategy as our guidebook.

Six goals, each with nested sub-priorities, emerged from our senior leadership planning sessions: enable innovative acquisition approaches that deliver war-fighting capability at the speed of relevance; build a safe, secure and resilient defense-industrial base (commercial and organic); ensure safe and resilient DoD installations; increase weapon system mission capability while reducing operating cost; promote acquisition and sustainment initiatives with key international partners; recruit, develop and retain a diverse acquisition and sustainment workforce.

A few initiatives that highlight some of these efforts are outlined below.

Cyber Model Maturity Certification, or CMMC, is a strategic solution to make security foundational to DoD acquisition. Currently, the metaphorical “mark” is not being met — most defense supply chain partners are not in compliance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology 800-171.

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CMMC is a DoD certification process that measures a supply chain partner’s ability to protect sensitive information through an independent third-party certification. The process will be managed by an accreditation body, which will certify, train, accredit these third parties and issue certificates. Recently, version V.06 of the model was released for review with a final version ready in January to integrate (in a phased-type approach starting fall 2020), as a mandate into all federal contracts.

The Adaptive Acquisition Framework, our most transformational acquisition policy change in decades, is set to deploy at the end of this year. It is new in the sense that it directs using the minimum amount of process to enable program managers to acquire a capability versus previous models, which dictated all those things you might not do from a vast array of process steps. Essentially, this framework cuts superfluous bureaucratic process by empowering program teams to choose a pathway based on the specific product or service being acquired. It emphasizes critical thinking and “creative compliance.”

A&S recently appointed an intellectual property leader to help develop DoD guidance and training, as well as to provide assistance across the DoD associated with acquisition, licensing and management of the newly published policy on IP (DoD 5010.44). PMs must proactively address protection of data rights at the inception of each program. Concurrently, we must continue our defense against cybersecurity threats that target U.S. IP by ensuring network security.

Lastly, we are proactively strengthening the DoD supply chain against adversaries’ creative market disruptions in the global marketplace. As such, we have formed a trusted capital, or TC, ecosystem where innovative companies connect with trusted investors. Though we will not promise business, we are creating an ecosystem in technology areas where we need more trusted sources for hardware, software and services to support our war fighter. Drone Venture Day, held on Nov. 13, 2019, represented the inaugural event in a series of TC opportunities to develop domestic manufacturing capabilities by growing and strengthening our defense-industrial base.

These are a few examples of how A&S is reinventing DoD acquisition to simply and cost-effectively reduce the process of equipping our military with cutting-edge capability at the speed of relevance.

Ellen Lord is the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

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