“In today’s environment, a program manager is
rewarded if his program comes in on schedule and under
budget,” Benedict said. “The old construct is: in order to
do that, the program manager can control everything if
he’s going to be held accountable to deliver that.
“In OA initiative, where you have common software
and common components, [it] takes a little bit of trust
that the components that may be developed by someone else are going to be ready on time [and] within
budget,” he said. “We need to ensure that program
managers recognize they’re going to be rewarded for
moving toward this larger Navy initiative.”
Benedict cautions that leadership needs to pay close
attention to managing development in a more demanding contracting environment
“Do we have the capability, the capacity and the
competency within the government to manage that increased involvement?” he said. “I think we do, but we
have to be careful not to swing that pendulum too far
and become too prescriptive from the government. I
think what we want out of industry is innovation and
Program managers face the decisions of making the
business case of which systems — particularly legacy
systems — to include in an OA. Some systems will be
phased out before they can be included. Others will
not provide a sufficient increase in warfighting benefit
to warrant investment in modification to fit in OA,
One of the obstacles to implementing OA in the
Navy is an aging civilian work force and shortage of
systems engineers and contract specialists, problems
the Navy has recognized and is shifting resources to
address. Benedict is drawing on the competencies and
talent that reside in the Naval Surface Warfare Center
and other field activities.
“We lost a lot of contract specialists,” Oliver said.
“Instead of issuing a few large contracts, we’re [now]
asking them to issue many smaller contracts. You have
to have people that understand some of the uniqueness
about issuing contracts for Open Architecture systems.”
OA implementation has been helped by the concept of
communities of interest (COIs) within the Department
“COIs are another important mechanism for
advancing OA implementation because they are typically organized by warfighting mission areas and facilitate enhanced collaboration and sharing of information among disparate organizations,” Benedict said.
“That idea was to develop a common language and
a common set of standards that would be across the
area of systems that were similar,” Oliver said.
The Navy has embraced the anti-submarine warfare
COI as particularly beneficial of OA implementation
because it includes a wide array of surface, subsurface
and air platforms that share mission systems and algorithms, Oliver said.
“You didn’t find that out and start to optimize things
until those folks started talking to each other,” he said.
“Similar things can be done in the radar community or
the electronic surveillance community. Right now, I
don’t see the conversations taking place to figure out
how to have a common language and to identify commonality that would allow you to save money by using
similar technologies across programs.”
“We need to do a better job of sharing the design
work in areas of common interest across the broader
community,” Benedict said. “Ideally, this sharing would
begin earlier in the acquisition cycle — perhaps as early
as during the requirements setting process.”
OA commonality is applicable across programs as well
as within programs. The PEO for Command, Control,
Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) is
running the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise
Services effort to standardize and reduce the number of
networks that perform similar functions on ships and submarines. The three mission packages designed for the
Littoral Combat Ship have several subsystems in common
that were developed by other program offices.
“Despite this progress, the naval acquisition community can gain even greater cost and performance advantages by pursuing a strategy to leverage off of each other’s
work in a more purposeful way,” Benedict said.
Although the current OA emphasis is on warfighting
and C4I systems, Benedict sees the OA construct extending to “hull, mechanical, electrical and damage control
systems [as] a means to maintain the currency of capability of each of our ships while providing the opportunity to effect reduction of life-cycle costs.”
The future scope and level of OA across the Navy
and Marine Corps is open-ended, but will be determined more by the business case more than technical
limitations, Oliver said.
“It’s all about how can competition drive the prices?”
he said. “The technology comes easy once you figure out
how to do the business part. The engineers can engineer
things all day long, but making the tough decisions
about the business impact of that [is paramount].
“There are all kinds of neat technology solutions, but
[it’s bringing] it to the discussion, ‘What’s the impact
going to be for the business case across the Navy budget?’
That hasn’t got enough of the light of day,” Oliver said.
“Success breeds more success,” Benedict said. “As
more examples of effective OA implementation are
shared across the acquisition community, momentum
will build.” ■