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News | April 6, 2020

DoD’s acquisition policy changes will impact agency

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, signed new Department of Defense 5000 series policies in January to help the department transform to a better Adaptive Acquisition Framework. Defense Contract Management Agency employees need to understand how the new guidelines will impact the agency and DoD.

On March 9, LeShan Jackson, a contracts specialist in the Contracts Policy Division, joined other DoD acquisition professionals for training at the Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn more about the Adaptive Acquisition Framework.

“The mission of this DoD 5000 Series is to enable the delivery and sustainment of secure and resilient capabilities to the workforce and international partners quickly and cost effectively,” said Jackson.

“Also, there is a focus on enabling innovative acquisition approaches that deliver warfighting capability at the speed of relevance and ensuring the delivery of training to ensure the workforce has the skills needed to fulfill the mission,” continued Jackson. “The AAF acquisition pathways provide opportunities for the buying offices to develop acquisition strategies and employ acquisition processes that match the characteristics of the capability being acquired.”

During the training, Jackson said the group discussed the six tenants of the defense acquisition system, which include: simplify acquisition policy; tailor acquisition approaches; empower program managers; data driven analytics; active risk management; and emphasize sustainment. They also discussed the six pathways in-depth to better understand how to implement the acquisition policies.

“In regards to transforming acquisition policy, new policies have been established for cybersecurity, intellectual property, technical and program protection, and acquisition intelligence,” said Jackson. “More policies are still in progress. Right now, the focus is on the software acquisition pathway to support continuous development and delivery. They are also incorporating data analysis and updating the guidebook to provide information on how to do it.”

Patricia McMahon, the contract and pricing policy director in the Contracts Policy Division of DCMA’s Contracting Directorate, said the policies will enhance warfighter support.

“These issuances revolve around the department’s effort to employ an Adaptive Acquisition framework comprised of acquisition pathways that will be tailored based on the unique characteristics and risk profile of the capability being acquired,” she said. “The policies are highly directed at the buying commands who are responsible for setting these acquisition strategies. The strategies ensure consistency and less tailoring overall. Tailoring can later occur once an acquisition has been assessed for program size, complexity, risk, urgency, etc.

“DCMA will benefit from these new changes because we will, as a result, be performing contract administration on programs with less variation,” she continued. “This allows DCMA organizations to provide less tailored oversight of contract administration services for certain acquisitions, thereby enabling more consistent policy and process implementation.”

McMahon said the policies are essential to establishing collaboration across DoD, especially when it comes to data sharing.

“This framework relies heavily on data and fact-based decision making by acquisition officials, which must be obtained in a fluid environment,” said McMahon. “Therefore, the level of engagement and collaboration across the DoD community must increase since people, including those from DCMA, will need access to similar data and information in order to be effective. This enforces data integrity and accessibility, which is pivotal in all DCMA interactions and for all types of DCMA support.”

The policies will allow DoD personnel to also better execute the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act because the new guidelines encourage the “use of shared data analytics to improve acquisition outcomes.”

McMahon and her team are excited about the new changes because it also emphasizes employee training and development.

“This also prepares DoD for future workforce training, which will be directed at critical thinking, modern software development and critical cyber skills,” McMahon said. “The Defense Acquisition University will offer pilot courses that focus on digital engineering, agile methods, and acquisition of services. In addition, future training will also rely on TED talks, website tools, and real-world examples.”

Overall, McMahon said DCMA employees are important to the acquisition process and should review the new policies and stay up-to-date with all DoD issuances and guidance.

“It is critical for DCMA personnel to realize how integral we are in the acquisition life cycle and that our impact starts before contract receipt and review,” she said.

“The inputs we provide need to be timely, factual, and based on our documentation of oversight, which includes both technical and financial surveillance,” McMahon added. “Additionally, we need to be prepared to share our collective multi-functional knowledge of the prime and subcontractor supplier community, including financial structures, business processes and practices, and operational and risk profiles.”

Employees can review the DoD issuances at http://www.esd.whs.mil/Directives/issuances/dodi/.

For more information about the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, visit DAU’s website, https://aaf.dau.edu/.

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Defense Contract Management Agency
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