Bringing Government IT Modernization and Innovation to the Forefront

Upending the RFP Process: Air Force Improves Acquisition Process to Support the Warfighter

IT acquisitionOn January 20, Software AG Government Solutions sponsored an Association for Enterprise Information event, Air Force Bending the Cost Curve: PlugFest PLUS (PFP) at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. PFP is an innovative approach by the Air Force to leverage the Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) Information Technology (IT) marketplace to help evolve fundamentally improved acquisition processes for rapid evolutionary development of open standards-based information systems. This series of videos explains more about PFP—what it is, how it works, and other aspects of the initiative. The event showcased how the Federal government is being more creative in terms of the IT acquisition process, which is a natural fit with Software AG Government Solutions’ focus on agility and innovation.

Earlier this month, Deborah Lee James, the secretary of the US Air Force, delivered an Atlantic Council Defense-Industrial Policy address entitled “Bending the Cost Curve” (BTCC). In that address, which you can watch here, she talked about the need to speed up acquisition and about doing more with less. She stated that the Air Force Acquisition processes are too slow, resulting in higher costs and longer development times than are acceptable to fully support the warfighter. She discussed the need to apply “strategic agility” to the acquisition process. Through the BTCC initiative, she detailed, the Air Force will develop and implement a wide range of transformative reforms.

The DoD has hosted PlugFests in the past, but this event differed from past events in that this one was created specifically for developers in the Federal sector to showcase solutions created for a particular scenario that has solicitations attached to it. The Air Force published an announcement and a whitepaper that detailed the initiative and invited industry to participate. Interested vendors will work within the Hanscom milCloud environment to see what they could build within a few weeks time. The solutions will then be showcased at the next PFP. This model enables the Air Force to test out technologies very early in the acquisition process instead of going through the traditional RFP process. It also reinforces and rewards vendors who are able to offer agile solutions, showcasing how new technologies can integrate with existing systems so government procurement personnel can be comfortable selecting products that will deliver maximum value with minimum up-front investment. This innovative model fits with Software AG Government Solutions’ mantra “put us to the test” and echoes the way we prove out our capabilities and technologies with clients.

In addition to the product demonstrations, the event featured keynote presentations and workshops around the theme of accelerating information system acquisition. The event was a great success with over 150 attendees and 12 vendor displays. The Air Force is now looking ahead to its next PFP—in April –where it envisions having the opportunity to award prototype contracts.


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