GAO Report: Steps toward applying leading practices in Army Futures Command

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Jon Ludwigson, acting director of contracting and national security acquisitions issues at the Government Accountability Office, details recommendations to help Army Futures Command accomplish their modernization mission.


The Army Futures Command’s mission is to modernize the way the Army fights wars. However, every military service has a mixed track record when it comes to modernization initiatives. According to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office, the new command should incorporate agency leading practices to make sure they stay on time and on budget. Jon Ludwigson, acting director of contracting and national security acquisitions issues at GAO, says that the establishment of Army Futures Command is progressing well.

 

“I think this is a good news story. The Army began this modernization effort in 2017 and its only been running for a year-and-a-half, but I think they’ve done really well so far with taking those initial first steps,” Ludwigson said. “…For example, standing up the cross functional teams as we call them. Which attempts to integrate experts from different backgrounds around the same table to talk about how they’re going to address some of the same capability areas. They’ve done that to include users, the soldiers in the field who are actually going to use these weapons systems to get their insights early rather than deliver a product that isn’t going to work.”

 

One recommendation GAO has for the Army is to not get ahead of itself when pursuing new technologies. Ludwigson says that pursuing tech before it’s ready for primetime can lead to issues down the road.

 

“What we found was that the Army wanted the flexibility to be able to begin these weapon systems programs early so they could strive to deliver them to soldiers. But what we found historically was that when you begin a weapons system program process too early, when you’re making the commitment to congress and the American people… sometimes you end up with the wrong kind of excitement,” Ludwigson told Government Matters. “You end up running over budget, over time and drawing attention on the hill for those things.”