DoD’s Hon. Kevin Fahey Delivers Opening Keynote Address at GovConWire’s Defense Digital Acquisition & Modernization Forum

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued its Software Acquisition Pathway to establish direction, responsibilities, and procedures for software procurement under the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

The department has also developed a separate, functional policy to guide acquisition processes and procedures of all programs containing IT in conjunction with the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF). 

The Hon. Kevin Fahey, assistant secretary for acquisition at the Department of Defense, delivered the opening keynote address during GovConWire’s Defense Digital Acquisition and Modernization Forum on December 1st.

Vince Vlasho, Managing Director, Defense & Intelligence with Accenture Federal Services (AFS), introduced Fahey and moderated his address. After his introduction, Fahey began his remarks by discussing how the DoD has modernized the acquisition process to more quickly deliver the necessary capabilities to meet the warfighter’s missions. 

Fahey has worked alongside Ms. Stacy Cummings and the Hon. Ellen Lord, the defense acquisition chief and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, to create the AAF. In doing so, they have developed an acquisition ecosystem that encourages “creative compliance.” 

The Software Pathway helps programs innovate and deliver faster. “It gets people into the idea of modern software development,” Fahey said. “All of the AAF’s major documents have been approved, and now we’re focused on how to train it.”

Fahey is helping to spearhead a transformation of DoD’s acquisition training. He compared new sessions to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) courses that require program managers to go through training that teaches critical thinking. 

He has also led recent efforts to improve contracting, focusing on bettering modeling and analytics of cost and pricing. Another line of effort is ensuring a resilient and secure industrial base. “We have to get better insight into the industrial base and multiple tier levels to improve supply chain risk management,” Fahey added. 

CMMC went into effect Dec. 1st. Fahey noted that contractors will have to report where they are in the process, and he expects it to become a reality within the next five years. He stated that a consistent model for cybersecurity and the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) is critical to the modernization process. 

Cybersecurity revolves around resiliency and testing to ensure that solutions are cyber-secure. Fahey helped bring in Katie Arrington, who is now Chief Information Security Officer at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, to spearhead cyber initiatives. 

Moving forward, other areas of focus for Fahey include digital engineering, portfolio management, microelectronics, and hypersonics. “Digital engineering is the next evolution of systems engineering, combining design, development, and new technologies to advance solutions. That is one of the highest priorities on the future of the AAF.”

After his address, Fahey answered questions from the audience regarding the future of acquisition within the federal sector. 

During GovConWire’s Defense Digital Acquisition and Modernization Forum, other notable federal and industry leaders discussed the DoD’s Software Acquisition Strategy, Defense Acquisition Workforce Development and the future of data and IT modernization across federal agencies, following Fahey’s address. 

The event also featured a fireside chat with Lauren Knausenberger of the U.S. Air Force, an expert panel and a closing keynote, delivered by Gen. David Thompson of the U.S. Space Force. 

Mark your calendars for January 5th, when GovConWire will host its next event, DAF: IT Plans and Priorities Forum

Featuring Knausenberger as the opening keynote speaker, the event will discuss digital Air Force Strategies, IT spending, new modernization initiatives and advanced cybersecurity practices that will enable the Air Force to stay up to speed across the defense landscape. 

The digital Air Force Initiative is an effort to leverage data and applications at the edge, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning, to “field a 21st century infrastructure responsive to the demands of modern combat.” 

As the service branch continues to innovate to current with the shifting environment, the Air Force has leveraged new tactics to increase cybersecurity, modernize IT framework and launch new platforms that support emerging technologies. 

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