Defense budget constraints force hard acquisition decisions

Getting tech tools to the troops means juggling budgets, requirements

As the Defense Department shaves down its budgets, particularly within acquisition, it’s becoming harder to balance costs with the logistics of implementing new technologies, a panel of officials from the Defense Information Systems Agency said last week.

Moving toward enterprisewide solutions is the de facto answer to the question of what’s next for military technology, but it’s complicated by challenges across the life cycle, from design and development to fielding weapons and tools, and the maintenance required in keeping systems running.

“We want to move away from building everything ourselves toward leveraging enterprise and existing services. We can’t invest in things we need because we’re paying for localized maintenance,” said Martin Gross, DISA deputy program executive officer, Command and Control Capabilities.

But making that move requires taking on the inherent obstacles, beginning with the processes and approaches to integrating systems, Gross said at the AFCEA Northern Virginia chapter’s Warfighters Support Agencies IT Day on July 15.

“How do you guarantee functionality when relying on other pieces?” he said. The right answer will involve standardized capabilities in command and control as well as agile development that lends itself to flexible solutions, he added.

Gross also expressed concerns about transition, particularly within sustaining current systems throughout ongoing modernization. “There’s no money to just throw things away,” he said.

To overcome these challenges, DISA is on the lookout for solutions that are interoperable and can be sustained, said Dave Bennett, DISA deputy program executive officer for Global Information Grid enterprise solutions.

It is also necessary to develop a big-picture view that goes beyond single systems or specific problems, the panel said.

Still, the juggling act is most critical when it comes to supplying the troops with necessary technologies. The DOD budget crackdown means DISA and other defense suppliers need to work with the military to determine what’s most important to have.

“We have to prioritize with Joint Forces Command. There has to be trade-offs between modernization, sustainment and operational support,” Gross said. “The only thing we can do is prioritize because there’s no way we can take on everything with the limited resources we have.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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