WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) --
The Advanced Tactical Acquisition Corps recently provided a number of recommendations to senior U.S. Air Force leaders, outlining actions the service should consider as it develops the replacement for the E-4B Nightwatch fleet, also known as National Airborne Operations Center or NAOC.
Currently in the very early stages of development, the Survivable Airborne Operations Center weapon system is necessary due to aging E-4B aircraft that are approaching the end of their service life.
ATAC Team 11, comprised of junior to mid-level civilian and military acquisition employees from across the Department of the Air Force, took up the challenge in August to come up with actionable recommendations for implementing digital acquisition methods for SAOC, with a specific focus during the operations and support acquisition lifecycle phase.
“Approximately 80% of costs over the lifetime of a (weapon) system is in operations and sustainment,” said Capt. Mike Morris, a program manager with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s and member of Team 11. “We found our niche to provide value to the SAOC Program Management Office by focusing on the ops and sustainment aspect to digital, to include things like getting OEM data rights early, building the digital interface and architecture early and making sure that it’s robust. That takes time, but yields huge benefits.”
Some of the recommendations and products the team developed were:
1. Creating a digital cultural change agents and digital coaches to ensure digital processes and workforce considerations are prioritized early in the SAOC weapon system development.
2. Establishing a designated license manager in the PMO to manage all licensing-related issues optimizing costs and ensuring the workforce has access to the right tool at the right time.
3. Leveraging commercial off-the-shelf digital tools to move fast and bolster collaboration across all stakeholders and throughout the acquisition lifecycle.
4. Digital Data Rights Best Practices memorandum which highlights effective TTPs for effective digital program contract language.
5. Facilitating the creation of a Data Input Requirements memorandum with the Rapid Sustainment Office to drive predictive maintenance awareness and articulate to program offices the type of data that should be collected.
6. Formalizing a memorandum between SAOC and Product Lifecycle Management to optimize digital workflow routes.
7. Organizing a SAOC stakeholder mapping and analysis workshop with the Defense Acquisition University in refreshing customers and influencers impacting the program.
Another actionable recommendation the team made was for the program office to have the appropriate data rights.
“A lot of programs get hamstrung by not having the appropriate data rights which can really be a huge limiting factor in how optimal, efficient or effective your digital environment or digital processes can really be,” Morris added. "So nailing those down early and getting the maximum data rights you can to support the entire life cycle is important.”
The ATAC-11 team’s recommendations were focused in the areas of (1) creating standardized workflow processes throughout the O&S phase and (2) transforming the Air Force culture to embrace the benefits of a digital program for daily operational execution.
Over the course of three months, the team traveled across the country to meet with Air Force and industry leaders in order to gain a better understanding of both the NAOC and SAOC, and develop acquisition best practices and recommendations.
As a leadership development program founded in 2016, ATAC provides acquisition professionals with an opportunity to help solve Department of the Air Force challenges, while learning from senior Air Force and industry leaders.
“For me, the ATAC experience has been tremendously beneficial not only for the experience, but also the opportunity to grow and be able to learn through the enrichment program,” said Thy Le, an Information System Security engineer, with AFLCMC’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate and ATAC 11 member. “Having the opportunity to see all the capabilities that the Air Force have at different levels of engineering, some of them I didn't even know was there, was very beneficial for me.”
“I had an overwhelmingly positive experience being part of ATAC 11,” Morris added. “We had incredible enrichment opportunities and leadership engagements. Overall, ATAC helped us put together our leadership philosophies, and really build self-awareness and confidence. Having benefited from three months worth of exposure to ecosystems of acquisition accelerators and digital innovation hubs, our team is now able to take new perspectives back to our respective units and help drive true and meaningful change for our Air Force.”
The following individuals are members of ATAC Team 11.
Eric Jackson, Air Force Sustainment Center
Thy Le, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Capt. Zachary Mathews, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Capt. Michael Morris, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Catherine Sarchenko, Air Force Test Center
Andrew Stamer, Space Systems Command
Daniele Vallera, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Brett Vines, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center