Army Aviation

Innovative Procurement Practices Today Help Control Future Costs

PEO for Aviation / BG Robert L. Marion: The rising cost of aviation systems in the face of ongoing fiscal challenges underscores the importance of maximizing the effectiveness of every dollar we spend.Years of funding decrements, operating under a continuing resolution and the impending implementation of the Budget Control Act and Sequestration continue to create challenges with an already difficult task of balancing current readiness with investment in future modernization.

UH-60V Black Hawk Cockpit / U.S. ARMY PEO AVIATION PHOTO

For those in the Army Aviation community, it comes as no surprise that many of our major weapon systems were developed and executed in a sole-source environment. In many cases, this has resulted in increased sustainment costs, reduced interoperability and escalating software costs while leaving the Government without the intellectual property and data rights of the purchased systems. This prevents us from being able to efficiently and effectively compete contracts to upgrade many of the key systems and software that run aviation platforms we have today.

Refocusing Strategy
Over the past few years, PEO Aviation has made a concerted effort to move away from sole-sourcing. In December 2013 the PEO Aviation and the Utility Helicopter Program received Army Acquisition Executive approval to implement the UH-60 Digital, now UH-60L, acquisition strategy. This included full and open competition for the avionics provider for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program.

The strategy also focused on the Government obtaining the technical data and software rights to support future completion for the UH-60L Digital Kit. The UH-60Ls will be upgraded with these common avionics, turning them into UH-60Vs with a pilot interface that’s essentially identical to the UH-60M.
At the system level, this strategy was a departure from business as usual for PEO Aviation. Understanding the importance of this endeavor we established a Non-Advocate Review Team in September to assess the program’s progress and capture lessons learned throughout the process.

Non-Advocate Review Team
The NAR Team consists of acquisition professionals from Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command (AMCOM), PEO Missiles and Space and PEO Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (STRI). The group is charged with providing an independent assessment of how well the program does in meeting established goals and objectives.

Focusing on the current contract and deliverables, the team will assess the acquisition strategy to identify potential issues, considerations or opportunities to ensure the Government retains the right amount of intellectual data to enable and maintain open competition throughout the production and sustainment process.
Once the assessment is complete, the team will provide feedback to the UH-60V Program Manager, PEO and senior staff. If it produces findings that indicate we are on track in our efforts to achieve savings, we could look to expand the practice in future.

PEO Aviation is committed to finding innovative ways to procure and field the capabilities our Soldiers need. Procurement strategies like the one being implemented for the UH-60 EMD phase could help us drive down sustainment costs by reducing the dependence on sole-sourcing by enabling full and open competition for production and sustainment.

BG Robert L. Marion is the Army Program Executive Officer for Aviation located at Redstone Arsenal, AL.