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Team 7 Progress Report – Week 2 (Base Visit Week)

This week is base visit week and given our discoveries about the size of the workflow last week it has given us an opportunity to make sure we truly understand the organization, the processes they are concerned about, and key differences between the various groups that fill similar functions in different commodity areas.

Customer Interviews (4/25)

CW3 Steve – Network Operations

  • Organization is currently working on boosting cloud offerings, including an unclassified cloud that could facilitate collaboration
  • However, there is no organizational standard on where or how to keep data, which may not be fixable.
  • We do much more work on the classified network because it is easier to share internally and there are more capabilities.
  • It’s possible to get a vendor’s info on a classified network but everyone has a different process.

MGSGT Chad – Squadron Ops SGM – Funding for In-Unit R&D

  • Not embedded in R&D section but supervises R&D section in Squadron F. Coordinates all of F’s activities and maintains continuity between projects.
  • We have a unique mission set and receive special funding from Congress as a result. We can use this budget to tell CDD what we want.
  • Each squadron has its own money.
  • Individuals highly specialized and can’t necessarily cover each other’s fields effectively.

Ben Fulton – AFSOC

  • AFWERX has a better view of vendor databases and which are worthwhile.
  • Enables you to see what other Air Force Units are submitting similar problem statements.
  • Sees some policies and regulations as getting in the way of acquisitions, but thinks it can be worked around.
  • Pointed to an entrenched mindset of “Rapid innovation threatens job security.”

Tom Williams – Commodity Area SME – Communications

  • Our job as commodity area SMEs is as enablers of capability development. They look at mission needs, capability requirements, and derived requirements and take the development process all the way to the point of obligation of government funds.
  • Wishes end users would understand that taking a little extra time to go through CDD could allow for so many more resources and will ensure that those requirements are sustainable. Suggested that some users take dangerous shortcuts to cut a small amount of time away from the cycle.
  • Believes some kind of focal point for end users where they could be put in contact with the right collaborator could be helpful, believes the benefit would be for the end users rather than CDD.
  • As a general rule, believes CDD to be doing quite well (particularly given his experience in the Navy), and believes that the key is better communication with end users and convincing end users that taking a little bit of extra time to do procurement properly will be better for them in the long run.

Hypotheses Supported:

  • R&D Sections are in charge of early, “unofficial” testing, CDD takes the requirements generated from that stage and eventually brings them to deployment. Our revised hypothesis on organizational structure remains intact following this round of interviews and it would appear we are on the right track of capturing who does what.
  • R&D sections have flexibility to act quickly; CDD relies on requirements to act but has more legal authority to enable official R&D and procurement. Our hypothesis on the ‘characterization’ of these groups continues to hold water as well. Of particular note is fairly consistent testimony from CDD personnel that if end users could just be patient and not try to circumvent the acquisition process, there wouldn’t be nearly as much to worry about.

Hypotheses Debunked

  • Getting information onto classified networks makes it unreadable by a program. Our interviews with some of the database experts at the organization revealed a number of methods for safely getting information on a classified network, including a system that allows vendors to send information directly. The problem is that most people don’t use them.

Questions for the Coming Week

  • Why isn’t the CDD process perceived as fast enough? Are there any examples of CDD slowness compromising a mission?
  • Who among the end user squadrons makes the decision to circumvent CDD to obtain a product? Is this shortcut only possible with O&M money and the micropurchase threshold or are there other ways?
  • Is there any level of distinction between CDD’s yearly budgeting and its process of deploying tech to meet a particular requirement? (i.e. What exactly do they achieve in the budgeting process and does it give them the leeway to obligate funds toward some new requirement during that year?)
  • Do we have the workflows and org chart right? (During our base visit we will be sharing some workflows and our organizational chart with our interviewees to give them an opportunity to correct any misconceptions we have.)


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