The DISA Component Acquisition Executive Support Team: An Acquisition Services Case Study
Kepler has provided acquisition subject matter expert (SME) support to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Component Acquisition Executive (CAE) since 2006. Our SMEs develop agency acquisition policies and procedures; assess the execution of programs, projects, and services; review and correct acquisition documents; prepare reports to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Congress; and resolve program specific issues as directed by the CAE. In resolving program specific issues, we have rebuilt integrated master schedules with thousands of tasks when a program faced management problems, developed acquisition strategies and conducted analysis of alternatives, and recommended solutions regarding statutory and regulatory compliance.
In helping programs and explaining program challenges to the DISA CAE, it became clear that many program managers for information technology (IT) systems were finding it difficult to adapt acquisition material developed primarily for weapon systems to Automated Information Systems (AIS) programs. An absurd example would be: How does one do a “live fire test” on information systems? What is missing is an IT-specific framework for managing the life cycle of AIS programs that is still fully compliant with statutes, regulations, and policies. Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02, the central acquisition policy for the DoD, allowed for process tailoring and flexibility in acquisition to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.
In developing the IT acquisition life cycle framework for DISA and all DoD IT acquisition communities, our team formulated key design standards based on our understanding of customer needs:
- The framework must be traceable from existing reference points such as DoDI 5000.02 and the Defenses Acquisition University (DAU) life cycle chart
- The total top-level diagram must be simple and focused enough for the program manager to carry in a binder as a foldout
- The graphical layouts must support a flow down to special IT acquisition processes and procedures associated with each swim lane and each phase of activities in the framework
- Specific activities and terms in the framework must be clearly defined in the context of IT acquisitions
Based on these standards, Kepler produced a bounded collection of fan-fold charts that became an essential quick reference product for the IT program manager. Our deep understanding of IT program management and acquisition policies allowed us to make the product very clear, concise, and implementable.
Hundreds of copies of this product were requested by DISA and the team later added frameworks for the acquisition life cycles of small projects and Acquisition of Services (AoS) in the supporting fan-folds. Among the other back-up fan-folds are a step-by-step timeline of the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) process, list of key questions to address in peer reviews during the procurement period, and checklists for all the milestones and decision points.
After the completion of this product, Kepler continued to develop other quick reference guides for our clients that greatly enhanced knowledge management, training, and acquisition execution. We actively maintain the currency of our existing products, and seek new government partnerships to leverage our accomplishments and to address new challenges.