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Air Force looks at innovative acquisition processes

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- With new technologies rapidly coming to the forefront of the global stage, remaining the world’s greatest air force comes at an escalating cost, making responsible spending and cost-cutting initiatives high priorities for Air Force leadership.

The Air Force Office of Acquisitions is partnering with industry to realize some of these initiatives and help propel the Air Force into the future by “Bending the Cost Curve” with leaner, more innovative spending practices.

“Bending the Cost Curve is a broad initiative that consists of a lot of individual projects that are designed toward containing cost growth and escalation within the Air Force over time,” said Dr. Camron Gorguinpour, Air Force Office of Acquisitions, director of the Air Force Transformational Innovation Office. “Over time, the value we get back for the amount of money we spend diminishes, so we’re trying to bend that back to the point where we’re actually getting more value for every dollar spent.”

There are 11 projects and initiatives launching this year and they all center on finding more efficient ways of spending money, and harnessing the best capabilities for the lowest costs. Some of the programs include conducting experiments to evaluate time and price outcomes of variations in the Truth in Negotiations Act requirements; identifying and capitalizing on acquisition successes with the Matchmaker project; cost-capabilities analysis and launching small business engagements.

“This (BTCC) is an open forum for good ideas,” Gorguinpour said. “Any good idea that we can really get our teeth into, we will go out and do.”

Working with industry, as well as ideas from Airmen, the Air Force hopes to find some best practice models that incorporate data analysis with basic common sense. One of the programs to implement these discussions is the cost-capability analysis.

“In a large organization sometimes you miss the obvious,” he explained. “Without having the discussion, you don’t know. If you get your acquisition process functioning correctly, you can start acquiring products at the pace of innovation. You can actually see the point at which an incremental improvement in capability has a dramatic increase in cost, and the idea is that you set your requirement just short of that – you find the sweet spots where you get the most value for what you’re doing.”

Gorguinpour said learning from past successes is key to innovative spending.

“With the Matchmaker program, we look at huge successes we’ve already had,” he said. “When we see a success, let’s acknowledge that it happened, and think through the elements that allowed that success to occur – not just on our own but working with the company that helped us achieve those savings. By conveying what went well, you’re able to transfer some of those successes. You create an enterprise-wide awareness you otherwise wouldn’t achieve.”

Bending the Cost Curve is about figuring out the right way to get Airmen what they need, when they need it, Gorguinpour said. The bottom line is improving wherever possible.

With the implementation of the new programs, and the nature of BTCC, the processes will continue to adapt and grow as new challenges emerge.

“Things are inherently going to change,” Gorguinpour said. “It’s a work in progress. We’ll tweak some of these processes when we see the need for it. We’re not afraid to change course if someone has better ways of doing something.”

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