Latest procurement reform may create a COTS renaissance

By John Keller
Editor in Chief

The year 2011 has to be better than 2010, doesn't it? Last year, Congress approved not even one spending bill-not one. Instead, it looks like the last Congress will leave it to the incoming group of lawmakers to fund fiscal years 2011 and 2012 in the same year. There's even a chance that the 2011 fiscal year, which began on the first of last October, might not even be officially funded until after the president's fiscal 2012 budget request comes out next month.

I have never seen anything like this-never-and I've been covering Washington politics now for nearly 30 years. Somehow it seems that members of Congress-Democrat or Republican-are genetically incapable of doing the right thing, which led us to 2010 when not one single appropriations bill was approved, and when lawmakers instead tried relying on earmark-riddled "continuing resolutions" to keep government running.

A continuing resolution, by the way, is congressional language for failing to get assigned work done on time. It's like begging a college professor for more time on a term paper assigned months before, or asking mom and dad for just one more chance to get overdue chores done to earn the week's allowance. In most places, this kind of tactic doesn't fly, but in Washington...

What we have in Washington is not only an inability to manage the taxpayers' money properly, but also tremendous pressure to cut federal expenditures of all sorts, and defense spending is not going to escape this time. It's a prudent question, then, to ask what's going to happen to companies serving the defense industry, such as the embedded computing business we all hold dear.

Well, it might not be all that bad, depending on whom you talk to. The need for technology insertion and systems upgrades are as pressing as ever, and embedded computing companies are well positioned to get a growing slice of a shrinking pie.

Prime defense contractors-well, that's a different story. The Boeings, Lockheed Martins, Raytheons, and Northrop Grummans of the world are looking at another round of re- inventing themselves, particularly in light of the latest round of military procurement reform: the fixed-price incentive firm target (FPIFT) contract.

These kinds of contracts provide incentives to prime systems integrators to keep costs as low as possible. Yeah, I know, it's been tried before-many times-but this time might be different; this approach invites prime contractors to share cost savings with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). If a contractor comes in under budget, the contractor splits that savings with the DOD.

This might be the ticket to real defense procurement reform that keeps military costs under control without compromising military readiness.

I know what you're thinking; I'm skeptical, too. No matter how often we come up with something new to bring defense costs down, it seems to come back to the old system where the defense primes lock the government into long-term procurement and sustainment contracts by packaging proprietary systems cloaked as open-standards technology. This system seeks to control costs by giving prime contractors incentives to beat-up their suppliers to within an inch of their profit margins. What's to keep that from happening again?

I wish I had a good answer. The least I can tell you, however, is this has as good a shot at succeeding as anything else we've seen since the COTS era began in the early 1990s.

I hear tell that these new kinds of contractors could trigger a renaissance in commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) procurement, which since the 1994 Perry Memo has devolved from true off-the-shelf procurement back to pseudo-open-standards procurement. Now there's a chance we can move back toward true off-the-shelf procurement.

More Military & Aerospace Electronics Current Issue Articles
More Military & Aerospace Electronics Archives Issue Articles


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

XPedite7572 | 5th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module with SecureCOTS™

The XPedite7572 is a secure and high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

XCalibur4500 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4500 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XCalibur4501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4501 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XCalibur4540 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur4540 is a high-performance, 6U OpenVPX™, multiprocessing, single board computer that ...

XPedite7501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled XMC Module

The XPedite7501 is a high-performance, low-power, XMC module based on the 5th generation Intel® C...

XPedite7530 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U CompactPCI Module

The XPedite7530 is a high-performance 3U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugge...

XPedite7570 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7570 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

Medusa VPX3424

The AcQ Inducom “Medusa”VPX3424 is a 3U OpenVPX™ Single Board Computer (SBC) featuring the T4240 ...

XPand6200 Series | Small Form Factor (SFF) Sub-½ ATR Rugged COTS System utilizing 3U VPX, XMC, and PMC Modules

The XPand6200 Series is a true Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Rugged system, supporting many 3U ...

XPedite2470 | 3U VPX Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA Module with FMC Site and Freescale P1010 Processor

The XPedite2470 is a high-performance, reconfigurable, conduction- or air-cooled, 3U VPX, FPGA pr...

Related Companies

Stealth.com

Manufactures industrial rugged computers and peripherals, including custom rack servers, rugged LCD monitors, mini PC...

AcQ Inducom

Develops and produces non-certified and certified high-tech modular hardware- and software solutions for on-board and...

Master Bond

For over 35 years, Master Bond has been supplying aerospace and defense manufacturers with custom formulated compound...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Intersil

Specializes in the design and manufacture of high performance analog semiconductors, Products include amplifiers, ana...

Innovative Integration

  Since 1988, Innovative Integration has grown to become one of the world's leading suppliers of DSP and data ac...

Active Silicon Inc

Designs and manufactures frame grabbers and embedded vision systems in PCI express, PCI/104-express, PMC, cPCI and C...

North Atlantic Industries Inc

The top 10 defense companies worldwide rely  on NAI Solutions NAI is a leading independent provider of specializ...

Electronic Development Labs Inc (EDL)

Since 1943, EDL has strived to provide quality products, outstanding customer service, and superior technical support...

MPL AG

MPL AG develops and manufactures rugged embedded computers and ethernet solutions with high quality standards. The su...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Latest from the Paris Air Show

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

June 2015
Volume 26, Issue 6
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE