Lockheed Martin CEO urges Defense Department to re-think acquisition process for digital products

While speaking at the Hudson Institute on October 4, Jim Taiclet the CEO of Lockheed Martin highlighted the need for the DoD to set up a separate process for the acquisition of digital systems in parallel with the existing acquisition process for physical systems. He argues that by the time the Pentagon receives a final digital product from a contractor, that software is already outdated due to the fast-moving pace of the digital realm. He even suggests setting up some sort of “subscription” service for the DoD to get continuous support, updates and upgrades to the platforms they own. Referring to the constantly changing goalposts of todays modern technology he says they must change “…not every 10 years when we can build a new airplane or a new Aegis radar, but every three to six months; how do we help DOD and our allies move those deterrence goalposts every three to six months?”

 Obviously, the CEO of Lockheed Martin may have financial reasons for wanting to increase the rate at which the DoD cranks out contracts. The idea of the Pentagon “subscribing” to Lockheed Martin’s platforms and services as a continuous stream of income would be great for the companies bottom line. However, that doesn’t mean that he’s wrong. In the world of hardware, it’s ok to take years and years to design, build, approve and acquire new technology. Physical corrosion and degradation happen relatively slowly which means maintenance services can also take a long time. With software on the other hand, especially when considering the ever-evolving cyber security threat landscape, the changes must be nearly instantaneous. While the DoD does implement some mitigating measures that help with this (DISA STIGs, SCAs, etc.) the entire acquisition process requires a serious second-look.

Source: https://www.airandspaceforces.com/lockheed-ceo-pentagon-new-acquisition-system-digital/