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Monday, November 29, 2010

Carter: Incremental development and prototypes for business systems

The Defense Department says it's taking a more incremental development approach to business information technology systems and will require prototypes, starting immediately.

In a Nov. 15 memo, Pentagon acquisition czar Ashton Carter says the department should allow no more than three-and-a-half years of measured time to elapse between the moment when the milestone decision authority approves a business system modernization worth more than $1 million to when the system achieves initial operational capability. If a larger business system effort has been broken down into discrete increments, then the timeline for IOC applies to those increments, says Carter--whose official title is undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

According to the memo, that means 12 months for assigning a program manager, developing a project plan and getting the investment review board to sign off on the business case. The clock starts ticking again after contract award (the memo doesn't appear to budget time for the procurement process) for a 12 month phase during which the program must produce a prototype. Thereafter, project officials have 18 months to complete engineering development and reach initial operational capability. The timeline, along with all the attendant decision points, is known as the Business Capability Lifecycle.

Overall, no more than five years should pass from when money is first obligated to when an increment of a major automated information system is complete or, should the program not be a MAIS, it achieves initial operational capability, Carter states.

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

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