Faster, better and cheaper-those are the watchwords for Air Force officials trying to improve their procurement system. Acquisition reform is hardly a new concept. In the last 25 years, there have probably been at least 30 studies of the issue at the Defense Department, says Darleen Druyun, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and management.
But in the last three years, reform has become more than rhetoric or the topic of another study. Innovative leaders and shrinking budgets have forced the military services to procure goods and services more efficiently.
In the Air Force, Druyun implemented the following nine initiatives to provide the framework for acquisition reform:
- The Air Force created a centralized support team to scrub all requests for proposals (RFPs), contract options and contract modifications that exceed $10 million. Similar teams were established at each Air Force Product and Logistics Center to scrub all RFPs totaling between $100,000 and $10 million. As a result, the average RFP is 60 percent smaller and contains 94 percent fewer military specifications.
- The service established a standing Acquisition Strategy Panel of senior acquisition leaders to promote earlier decision-making and ensure consistent acquisition strategies to meet the needs of specific programs.
- Air Force officials redesigned system program offices to reflect new acquisition requirements. As a result, most offices will be reduced by 50 percent.
- Acquisition policy formulation has been centralized at Air Force headquarters, while execution has been decentralized. This has resulted in consistent policies across the Air Force and presents industry with a single source on policy issues.
- The program approval process has been coordinated through integrated product teams.
- A contractor's past performance now counts. Air Force officials have designed a performance collection system and are preparing regulatory guidance for acquisition officials to use in source selection.
- The Air Force combined numerous documents, such as acquisition plans, program management plans and acquisition strategy reports required for milestone reviews, into a single acquisition management plan.
- Program managers will develop metrics to track the implementation and effectiveness of reform initiatives.
- The Air Force is developing a training program for the acquisition workforce to ensure that procurement officials have the knowledge and skills to implement reforms.