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Alan Shaffer: Pentagon Adopts Navy Program for ‘Skunk Works’ Pilot Project

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Alan Shaffer
Alan Shaffer

Alan Shaffer, the Defense Department’s acting assistant secretary for research and engineering, has said the department selected a U.S. Navy program as its pilot project under the military’s new “skunk works” weapons system acquisition approach, Federal News Radio reported Monday.

Jared Serbu writes the skunk works method aims to streamline the way Pentagon complies with existing laws that require the defense official’s approval and review.

Shaffer told the Potomac Institute the DoD found a Navy program “where the program manager owned the technical baseline,” which he said is needed to achieve the skunk works model, according to the report.

“If we can cut out all the crap the program manager has to deal with to get a milestone decision and let them focus on actually managing the technical risk, we’re going to get better systems in a shorter amount of time,” he said.

Under this method, a three-day on-site meeting will take place in order to review and decide on a program’s status, the station reports.

He added DoD must move to “open systems architectures and own the interfaces between all of the major subsystems that make up a major weapons system” to understand that system, the report says.

Shaffer said this would allow for new technologies, encourage small suppliers to contribute their ideas and help the DoD prevent a vendor monopoly, Federal News Radio reports.

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