The Air Force’s deputy chief information officer has asked the commercial industry for help as the service works to modernize its information technology programs and strengthen its networks. Speaking to industry at the Washington Technology Breakfast on March 10, Winston Beauchamp outlined several opportunities for industry and emphasized the Air Force’s efforts to modernize in areas that have been neglected in recent years.
The path to these modernization efforts, the DOD’s Zero Trust Strategy and Roadmap, “reduces the threat landscape, improves risk management and effective information sharing in partner environments and rapidly reshapes adversary activities,” the Air Force said.
“When necessary, we use integrated systems; we use federated capabilities as much as possible to maintain some flexibility in the services so that we don’t have to go into a lock-in,” Beauchamp said. it will be.”
Beauchamp told the audience that he wanted industry to help him understand how Air Force was built. But such an effort presents many challenges, particularly the long-term impact of factors such as division and the tough choices the power made in the early to mid-2010s.
“The problem is that when you celebrate modernism for a decade, it eventually catches up with you, and that’s what’s happening now,” he said. “We’re seeing it in network latency issues in device crashes. … Of course, the older your device gets, the harder it is to modernize, and it takes a significant amount of money and time to overcome that much technology debt.”
Beauchamp said the Air Force is about to launch Enterprise Information Technology as a Service (EITaaS) Wave 1, an implementation of “enhanced network management and security help desk services,” which will be quickly followed by Wave 2. Base area network updates at 185 bases – prioritize critical exits near conflict areas.
Where these areas of modernization require assistance from industry, the Air Force is to identify “business best practices” and help the Force understand how these things are implemented in the business sector.
“In most cases, that means making that business case with our people so they understand where the things you do on a regular basis — when you’re doing this kind of modernization in the real world — how it can be applied to military bases, while still complying with all the rules and regulations that you have to do for DOD acquisition.” Beauchamp said.
He spoke of the Air Force’s aggressive efforts to transition to the cloud and highlighted Cloud One, the DOD’s first hybrid multi-cloud program. It contains layers of development and security services that users can employ to migrate applications to the cloud or develop applications in the cloud.
Regarding Air Force culture, Beauchamp noted that EITaaS is a far cry from previous procurement efforts, where a vendor, for example, installs equipment at a base or location, and then operations and support are performed by Air Force personnel and support. EITaaS is structured differently, because the vendor is involved in the operation of the product – essentially providing the service to the Air Force.
“We’re entering into a service level agreement,” he said. “We are enabling the supplier to upgrade or replace the equipment as needed at the cost of the contract to ensure they can meet that support agreement.”
Ultimately, Beauchamp said, this will allow service members to bring their expertise to other responsibilities and make better use of the Air Force’s existing talent.
Joseph “Mike” McWilliams, director of staff for the Air Force Small Business and Acquisition Program, then offered a crash course on best practices for suppliers to better connect their talent with the Air Force. Above all, McWilliams urges vendors to be clear and concise in their descriptions of capabilities, what services they provide, and how their expertise meets the needs of the Air Force.
McWilliams laments the many proposals he has reviewed over the years that are short on substance and long on “fuff.” Prospective suppliers evaluating proposals are typically urged to make quick decisions and understand the details of a vendor’s capabilities. He also urged vendors to attend industry days.
“If you’re out there in the audience and you have a better idea or you know what you can do, help the program manager and the contracting officer out there… come up with that procurement strategy that’s specific to small businesses,” he said. You probably don’t think about that until now.