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News | Dec. 18, 2023

Shields highlights Federal Digital Engineering Forum as keynote speaker

By DCMA Technical Directorate

As Defense Contract Management Agency continues its information modernization and quality assurance transformation, Mike Shields, its Quality Assurance executive director, served as the Department of Defense’s 2023 Federal Digital Engineering Forum keynote speaker at the Institute for Defense Analyses here in October. 

The Defense Department organized the three-day collaborative event, bringing together several agencies, early acquisition partners, and consumers. Decision-makers from these entities exchanged best practices and addressed difficulties related to acquisition. The event convened key stakeholders involved in early purchase decision-making across several governmental departments. The event included 200 participants from eight federal agencies, four national labs, nine DOD entities, 10 federally funded research and development centers, and 11 government support firms. 

Shields addressed the diverse group of key decision-makers and subject matter experts on many agency-centric topics. 

“He provided an update on partnerships with industry through the Joint Strategic Quality Council on collaborating in data sharing, modernizing industrial standards with industry partners that drives digitalization of quality requirements and applicable standards,” said Craig Bennett, a NASA team lead with DCMA’s Technical Directorate. “Those requirements will be adopted into improved contractual data item descriptions requirements. These efforts will provide capabilities in machine-readable data that support future advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence where anomalies to technical requirements can be identified and corrected during production, reducing scrap and rework, and reducing costs and production disruptions. The JSQC partners are also working on the adoption of standards that standardize flow down requirements to the supply chain minimizing redundant and sometimes conflicting requirements to reduce costs and improve performance. The event encompassed the exchange and alignment of optimal methodologies, expediting the endeavors of organizations to attain early achievement in the implementation of tailored Contract Administration Services.” 

DCMA is collaborating with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, NASA, and several industry groups to spearhead the advancement of Model-Based Quality Assurance, or MBQA, with the goal of transitioning into Model-Based Acquisition, or MBA. 

“Collectively, we are harnessing the potential of CAS by implementing Quality Assurance models and preparing for the implementation of advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Digital Twins, and others,” said Bennett. “The enhancement of performance may be achieved by cooperation and needs while also using predictive CAS intelligence in future endeavors.” 

According to DCMA’s Technical Directorate, commencing with the implementation of MBQA will pave the way for the adoption of MBA in the future. This will facilitate the decentralization of processes, which will be based on an agile analytics approach. It will enable the customization and tailorable CAS supporting DCMA’s Strategic Plan Levels of Effort 1-4. The initial implementation of the MBQA system will be conducted as a pilot study at specific locations. It will be expanded to encompass complete CAS requirements and standards, specifically focusing on important process capabilities and the management of key characteristics. 

“Planned objectives encompass several aspects, including the collecting and analysis of data, prediction of supplier capabilities, utilization of the digital ecosystem, establishment of data ontology and taxonomy, development of operational definitions, consolidation of massive data into a single location, and the creation of models for quality assurance analysis and insights,” said Bennett. “The utilization of AI and CAS Digital Twin, known as CAS DT, has the potential to enhance the predictive capabilities and effectiveness of our Quality Assurance specialists in addressing negative contract performance, contributing to the stabilization of cost, schedule, and delivery.” 

As DCMA transitions to an MBQA environment, DCMA is developing shared user environments that provide visibility into CAS insight at the point of request. This is a departure from the previous approach of utilizing centralized sites associated with the location of product manufacture. The utilization of the Product Data Reporting and Evaluation Program, as well as the incorporation of Power BI data visualization tools and other cutting-edge digital environments, are being employed in many contexts. DCMA is actively disseminating its data, facilitating access for its partners, and effectively implementing this strategic objective. 

“Soon, the implementation of MBQA will make use of Artificial General Intelligence and ML,” said Bennett. “This will result in the transformation of contract standards and the adoption of machine-readable standards and requirements. The utilization of modeling in analytics enables the harnessing of the potential of many technologies, such as AI, ML, and Augmented Reality. The implementation of the adoption plan will enhance the agency's ability to make decisions more quickly and effectively by incorporating predictive intelligence into the analysis of real-time events.”