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Competitive Prototyping Challenges for DoD and Industry. Paul Croll, AMND Fellow May 28, 2008. What is it? Why should I care?. Competitive Prototyping (CP) is an approach to competition where two or more competing teams develop prototypes during the early stages of defense acquisition programs

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Competitive PrototypingChallenges for DoD and Industry

Paul Croll, AMND Fellow

May 28, 2008

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What is it? Why should I care?

  • Competitive Prototyping (CP) is an approach to competition where two or more competing teams develop prototypes during the early stages of defense acquisition programs

  • Memo released by the Honorable Mr. John Young, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD/AT&L) on September 19, 2007

    • Directed the military services and agencies to “formulate all pending and future programs with acquisition strategies and funding that provide for two or more competing teams producing prototypes through Milestone (MS) B.”

    • Focus is on major system acquisitions and key system elements

  • Policy expected to be issued in late summer 2008

    • Policy will impact how the largest systems are acquired by the Government, with an increased occurrence of prototyping higher risk elements of a system before the procurement

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Competitive Prototyping performed here

When will the prototyping be done?

DoD 5000 Life Cycle

Graphic from Defense Acquisition Guidebook

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Expected Benefits (from Mr. Young’s memo)

  • Primary benefits

    • Avoid cost overruns

    • Reduce technical risks

    • Validate system designs

    • Evaluate manufacturing processes

    • Reduce time to fielding

  • Secondary benefits

    • Increasing and strengthening the interaction of government and industry management teams

    • Develop and enhance systems engineering capabilities

    • Retain people with critical engineering skills

    • Attract young talent to the field of science and engineering

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Industry Feedback

  • Workshop held 4/28/08 to solicit industry feedback on Mr. Young’s memo

  • Summary of feedback:

    • There is great value to both the government and prospective developers in:

      • Maturing all relevant technologies

      • Substantially reducing overall risk

      • Refining critical program paths

      • Curtailing dependency on paper proposals.

    • It is important to achieve an early lock down of stable and predictable requirements – volatility is apt to be a serious impediment to successful competitive prototyping.

    • Goals need to be clearly defined – the rationale for industry investment (e.g. IRAD) should be visible and convincing.

    • The logistics of managing a Competitive Prototyping may stretch thin the government team, potentially impeding open communications between the government and the contractors.

    • Competition may not be necessary during the pre-Milestone B prototyping phase if technology levels going-in are high enough.

  • Several industry topics stirred a great deal of conversation on the part of the DoD audience:

    • Innovation Recognition and Intellectual Property Protection.

    • Does Competitive Prototyping increase or reduce the product’s time to market? Presenters provided empirical examples on both sides of this issue.

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Survey on CP Software Impacts

  • Little consideration has been given regarding the impact on (and of) software

  • Survey to be conducted to collect insights on software impacts, with special attention to

    • Requirements

    • Risk

    • Estimation

    • Software quality attributes

  • Survey results will be used by NDIA and OUSD(AT&L) to provide guidance to both government and industry

    • Expected to drive several specific tasks to create appropriate guidance

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Survey Sampling Criteria

  • Success critical stakeholders (SCS) involved in such procurements, including:

    • Acquirers (military services and defense agencies), with roles including

      • Technical

      • Contractual

      • Oversight

    • Competitors (such as prime contractors)

    • Acquisition support organizations (such as SETA contractors)

    • Acquisition process researchers (such as academics and industry researchers)

    • Acquisition policymakers (such as persons currently or formerly in these roles)

  • Respondents selected from the above entities should have direct experience with the software aspects of CP or CP-like processes on large, software-intensive system (SiS) projects

  • It is desirable that the software components of such projects be valued on the order of $50 million or larger

  • The surveyed communities should comprise a diversity of domains (for example, C4ISR, avionics, integrated systems of systems, etc.) to capture the broad nature of acquired systems.

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Additional Survey Details

  • Survey timeframe: June and early July

  • Survey structure

    • Survey responses via e-mail or Internet

    • One hour phone call for follow-up

  • Survey being sponsored by:

    • NDIA Software Industry Experts Panel

    • OUSD(AT&L) Systems and Software Engineering Directorate

  • Survey will be executed by:

    • University of Southern California Center for Systems and Software Engineering led by Dr. Barry Boehm

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  • The Honorable Mr. John Young’s September 19, 2007 memo

  • “DOD Acquisition Czar Wants Prototyping Competition”, WashingtonTechnology, 10/9/07.

  • “Pentagon’s New Prototype Plan”,, 1/25/08.

  • “The Pentagon’s New R&D Rules Leave Many Questions Unanswered”, The Avascent Group, 1/22/08.

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Paul R. Croll


Computer Sciences Corporation

10721 Combs Drive

King George, VA 22485-5824

Phone: +1 540.644.6224

Fax: +1 540.663.0276

e-mail: [email protected]

For More Information . . .