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Stacy Cummings, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions at the DoD, explains how the adaptive acquisition framework at the Defense Department improves the acquisition process

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord recently unveiled a new Adaptive Acquisition Framework for the Defense Department. Stacy Cummings, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions at the Defense Department, joined “Government Matters” to discuss the new framework and the software acquisition pathway.

“Over the last year, we have published a series of policies that really codify a transformation to the defense acquisition system,” she said. “We’re going from a policy framework where each of our programs go through a similar process that’s very milestone based … and we’re transitioning to a flexible, adaptable framework that empowers program teams to really tailor their acquisition strategy based on the unique capability that they are buying … on behalf of the warfighter.”

The framework includes six pathways including urgent operational needs, middle tier acquisition, major capability acquisition, software acquisition, defense business systems and acquisition of services. Of the six new pathways, Cummings said the software pathway is the newest and most exciting. She hopes program teams use the flexibility of the six pathways to develop a strategy that tailors in documentation, oversight, studies and requirements, rather than excluding them.

“As opposed to looking at a checklist or compliance-based program, we really want program teams to be establishing their programs based on that unique capability,” Cummings said.

She said the added flexibility should help equip program teams to reduce risk, reduce cost, and meet deadlines for delivering capabilities to the warfighter. Cummings said the speed of relevance is among the most important gains from the adaptive acquisition framework.

“We want to go as fast as it makes sense for the capability that we’re acquiring, and the flexibility of the pathways … give our teams the ability to start quickly, to iterate on requirements, to iterate on prototyping and on software delivery so that we’re getting capability into the hands of the warfighter as quickly as possible to get that feedback so we are able to make the best possible decisions with the most amount of information…” she said.

She said her team has already learned from pilot software acquisition programs the Defense Department has done. She emphasized the importance of getting minimum viable products into the hands of the warfighter quickly to get feedback. Cummings said she hopes to pilot a new color of money for software next year.

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