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Acquisitions enterprise: Agility and people key to reform

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Haux
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information
Dr. William LaPlante, assistant secretary of Air Force acquisition, along with the Navy and Army acquisition secretaries testified on acquisition reform before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, April 22.

LaPlante spoke about agility and adaptability being fundamental to the Air Force strategy.

“The emphasis is on fielding systems more rapidly and building resilient systems that are inherently resistant to predictive failure,” LaPlante said in his written testimony. “There are several techniques to help shorten development cycle times, allowing for increased performance beyond legacy systems with the rapidly fielded ‘A-model’ design of the system.

“We have to use the right tools and disciplines now to ensure we are developing and fielding the right systems that need to be there for us to win that future fight,” LaPlante said in a previous discussion on the topic. “Knowing threats are going to change as we are working on these systems, we need to be able to pivot to affect the new threats that we can’t even see today that we know will be out there in the future.”

Another topic of concern was how the acquisition community is training and keeping experienced professionals.

In order to keep the correct experts in the acquisition community, LaPlante said they have to “appeal to the patriotism of this individual and their family.”

“The Air Force deliberately develops military and civilian acquisition professionals according to well defined career path models which serve as a guide for professional experience opportunities, education and training,” LaPlante said in his written testimony. “These career models provide ample opportunity and experience for acquisition professionals at all ranks, and provide a defined path to greater rank and responsibility within the acquisition workforce.”

In answering the committee’s questions he discussed how the enterprise is learning from prior AQ mistakes with a recent change to produce an ‘Acquisition Incident Report’ when a program suffers serious challenges or cancellation.

“When there is an accident or crash, there is a safety investigation done,” LaPlante said. “We are doing the same thing when we have an acquisition crash. Lessons learned comes down to about six root causes and they are all very fundamental … We took those lessons learned and went program by program to see if there were any of the same root causes and addressed them.”