This week, on Government Matters, host Francis Rose interviewed me about “color of money” pilots for software acquisition in the Defense Department.
New pilot program for software acquisitions | Government Matters
Nick Sinai, Senior Advisor at Insight Partners, discusses a pilot program to test a new way to do software acquisitions…
Under Secretary Ellen Lord — the Defense Department’s top acquisition official—is working with Congress to test the idea of a single type of software money, instead of separate research, procurement, and sustainment funding streams. They are picking both software-intensive weapons systems and traditional business systems to pilot, with the goal of showing Congress that this is a better way to fund software. Her office also put out interim policy guidance to program offices about how to buy software simpler and faster.
As I said on Gov Matters, planning for years, building for years in a single procurement, and then maintaining for decades— that type of appropriations might make sense for a battleship. But that funding model isn’t relevant to the continuous development of modern software, where early and frequent testing with the end-user is industry best practice.
Lord’s efforts build on the landmark Defense Innovation Board’s software study, released last year, that found that:
- “Software is ubiquitous and U.S. national security relies on software.
- The threats the U.S. faces change rapidly, and DoD’s ability to adapt and respond is now determined by its ability to develop and deploy software to the field.
- The current approach to software development is a leading source of risk to DoD: it takes too long, is too expensive, and exposes warfighters to unacceptable risk.”
(Also check out their ten commandments of software.)
I couldn't agree more.
As I testified in Congress earlier this year, the federal government has to do a better job at buying, building, and integrating software.
That is why I’m excited that DoD is taking the DIB’s recommendations seriously to speed up software acquisition — training acquisition professionals, getting more software expertise in DoD, publishing new acquisition policy, and proving that a single type of money is a better funding mechanism.
But like any large enterprise, DoD needs to develop software development capability itself. That’s why I’m excited about software factories like Kessel Run, new software career paths, and new digital upskilling initiatives (see Air Force’s Digital University and the Army’s Quantum Leap).
We still have a long way to go, but we’re making progress.