HomeNewsArticle Display

Faster, smarter: Speed is key in acquisition reform

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, discusses “Fielding Tomorrow’s Air Force Faster and Smarter,” during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss)

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, discusses “Fielding Tomorrow’s Air Force Faster and Smarter,” during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss)

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, discusses “Fielding Tomorrow’s Air Force Faster and Smarter,” during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss)

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, discusses “Fielding Tomorrow’s Air Force Faster and Smarter,” during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss)

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, discusses “Fielding Tomorrow’s Air Force Faster and Smarter,” during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss)

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, discusses “Fielding Tomorrow’s Air Force Faster and Smarter,” during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AFNS) -- Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, spoke about fielding tomorrow’s Air Force faster and smarter by reforming the acquisition process at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Dec. 28.

During his presentation, he emphasized that speed is paramount in improving the acquisition process.

“Going faster is not just a tag line for us; it’s a dead serious business about keeping the Air Force competitive and dominant,” he said.

According to Roper, there are two important components of why the Air Force cares about improving acquisitions—who is doing it and why the Air Force is doing it.

“’Who’ starts with our warfighters,” he said. “Everything is about their mission.”

The “why” is the U.S. competing against peer adversaries who can match its technology. It’s a time of unprecedented technological advancement, so the Air Force must have the fastest acquisition system to keep on winning.

However, in order to maintain its competitive edge, Roper explained the Air Force’s four-step plan to improve the acquisitions process.

The first step is to supercharge the acquisition engine by exploring ways to buy things earlier. The service can speed up its processes using programs like Section 804 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, which encourages acquisition programs to streamline their processes.

The second step is to expand industrial partnerships.

“We need to change ourselves to a partnership model,” he said.

He elaborated on how the Air Force’s contracting process needs to match the pace of startups. Startups often move in a week, or even a day. So three months, which the Air Force once considered fast, is unacceptable now.

“We have to make sure the next generation of companies find it easy to work with us so we can do business at the pace of relevance,” Roper said. “But it’s not enough to just have the door open—where’s the rest of the house? Where’s the lifelong connection to the Air Force?”

The service is opening the door to startups through initiatives such as Air Force Pitch Day, which is scheduled for March 6 and 7. Pitch Day encourages small businesses and start-ups to submit ideas for a chance to be awarded same-day contracts.

“We can build the best airplanes and satellites,” he said. “But we will lose if we can’t update the software at the speed of relevance in this century.”

The third step is to create a big idea pipeline, to keep building and challenging old operational concepts and old industrial models.
“A few programs are creating the pipeline but more are needed,” Roper said. “So if you’re here from industry and you’ve got a big idea, a war-winning idea, a game changer, we need you.”

The Air Force’s Spark Tank and Vice Chief’s Challenge invite Airmen and start-up companies to share their ideas to help establish a culture of innovation.

The fourth and final step—increase sustainment innovations—answers the questions of how to pay for the big idea pipeline.

The Rapid Sustainment Office, which was created approximately four months ago, has already transitioned commercial technology to cost savings for the Air Force using additive manufacturing to make replacement parts for airplanes, additive repair to replace parts rather than scrapping them and buying new. Predictive maintenance uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to predict when parts need to be replaced.

“I don’t know where all this is going,” he said. “But I see potential for big savings. Enough that we could potentially afford that big idea pipeline. Seventy percent of our budget is sustainment; if we only saw 5 to 10 percent of that as savings, that’s a lot of big idea pipeline.”

Roper concluded the Air Force is on the right track but it needs to keep working to improve and speed up its processes.

“We need light speed in all of our endeavors, Air Force,” he said. “We’re off to a great start but this can’t be the only AFA we talk about this. We need to talk about it every time, keep our foot on the accelerator and remember that while ready to fight and win today, we are also competing."

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @US_TRANSCOM: @usairforce Airmen assigned to @grandslamwing move cargo to Bagram, Afghanistan in support of @CJTFOIR. @US_TRANSCOM’s ass…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: We must keep talking, keep asking...always connecting. We owe it to our #Airmen and each other. https://t.co/vjvPVLSDdI
RT @37thTRW: Who remembers cleaning 🧼 one of these rooms for inspection at #BMT? Or the #wingman that slept beside you? 🛏 Lots of history i…
RT @DeptofDefense: .@usairforce firefighters with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron take part in a mock aircraft fire exercise at Andersen A…
RT @DeptofDefense: With a little help from my friends 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 The @usairforce @AFThunderbirds perform with the @rafredarrows in the largest a…
RT @AF_Academy: New Academy telescope will be largest available for public viewing in Colorado. https://t.co/0e4AJJTHUn https://t.co/uHT0Mb…
RT @DepSecDef: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett on confirmation as the 25th Secretary of the @usairforce. A businesswoman, attorney, dipl…
RT @30thSpaceWing: #DYK –VAFB is partially powered by a 200 acre, 28MW solar array, reducing its electrical demand by 35%, saving the base…
RT @WrightPattAFB: An @AFResearchLab team recently delivered version 2.0 of the Survival Health Awareness Responders Kit (SHARK) to @usairf
Watch the video of Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett being sworn in. Click the link to learn more about… https://t.co/agE0mT2cFj
RT @EsperDoD: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett, the 25th @SecAFOfficial. I know she will lead the charge to modernize @usairforce operati…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: It’s a great day to be an Airman. Today Barbara Barrett officially became our 25th @SecAFOfficial. The men and women…
RT @DeptofDefense: Fill em up! ⛽ KC-135 Stratotankers from @RAFMildenhall refueled over 80 F-15s in a two-day exercise, offloading 480,000…
RT @SecAFOfficial: Today I officially became the 25th Secretary of the #AirForce. I'm conscious of the extraordinary privilege of working w…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: #BomberTaskForceEurope 20-1 is in full swing and B-52s from @TeamBarksdale are operating out of RAF Fairford to improve bomb…
RT @EsperDoD: During #CyberSecurityAwarenessMonth, I challenge all @DeptofDefense employees to stay committed, ensuring they are following…
RT @AirNatlGuard: Special Delivery! ✈️📦 The @109thAW teamed up with the @RCAF_ARC for Operation Boxtop, an annual resupply mission to suppo…
We strive to increase our Airmen's lethality and capabilities. Learn about firefighters leading the cost-effective… https://t.co/Nrgx3BSrtl
RT @EsperDoD: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett for her overwhelming bipartisan confirmation by @SenateGOP & @SenateDems to be the 25th Se…