AFCEA NOVA Luncheon w/ Mr. Richard Aldridge, Program Officer for BES and Director of BES Directorate

Published: May 08, 2019

USAFBusiness DevelopmentData CenterInformation Technology

The Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association – Northern Virginia (AFCEA NOVA) held a luncheon on April 26, 2019. The speaker, Mr. Richard Aldridge, is the Program Officer for Business and Enterprise Systems and Director of the Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate at Maxwell Air Force Base, Gunter Annex, Alabama.

Mr. Aldridge stated that, while keeping down costs is still a priority, speed is now more imperative given the importance of staying ahead of other countries. To accomplish this, he noted that Government and industry need to rethink the acquisition process and that what worked in the past will not work in the future. Therefore, the Air Force has implemented several new ideas in order to speed up the acquisition process:

  • OTAs for prototyping
  • Agile Pilot Programs
  • Sparq Tank, AFWERX, Agile DevSec Ops
  • AFOTEC Reset
  • Advocating with OSD on Digital Technology appropriation
  • Shift from product to service-oriented IT
    • The Air Force is looking at more commercial options and being able to subscribe to a service vs. having a product that has to be maintained.

Additionally, Mr. Aldridge stated the Pitch Day, held in March 2019 in New York, proved to be a successful approach for improving the acquisition process.  The Air Force awarded 51 contracts during the event.  Because of the success of the Pitch Day, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Dr. Roper, has given approval for all PEOs to hold their own Pitch Day in order to leverage the innovative ideas of the small businesses. 

Another approach that has proven to be successful is Kessel Run in Boston.  Kessel Run was the first software factory to be established and took about 18-months to stand up.  The Air Force is now establishing for additional software factories:

  • Kobayashi Maru – Los Angeles, CA
  • (Level Up) – San Antonio, TX
  • Space Camp – Colorado Springs, CO
  • BES Product Innovation (BESPIN) – Maxwell AFB, Gunter-Annex, AL

According to Mr. Aldridge, Dr. Roper wants to get back to how it was during World War 2 days where the Air Force is throwing new models out every 3-5 years instead of every 30 years.