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Acquisitions Office Focuses
on Information Gathering
By Lisa Daniel,
American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. -- June 6, 2011 – (AFPS)
When senior Defense Department leaders sit down to make tough policy decisions
on major acquisitions systems that inevitably get the attention of everyone from
the secretary of defense to Congress and the president, they rely on the work of
a small office of public servants here who are quietly changing the paradigm on
“It’s work that doesn’t seem that sexy, but it is fundamental
to the foundation of the department,” Mark E. Krzysko, deputy director of
Enterprise Information and Office of the Secretary of Defense Studies, said in a
June 2 interview with American Forces Press Service.
Krzysko had just completed a presentation at the Association
for Enterprise Information Emerging DOD Information Platforms Conference here,
held in the same defense industry complex of high-rise office buildings as his,
a couple miles south of the Pentagon.
It’s a niche field in which discussions are laden with terms
such as “service-oriented architecture,” “semantic technologies” and “agile
methodologies.” But before the technical talk begins, Krzysko reminds his
colleagues of the end users of the major systems for which they collect data.
The second slide in his PowerPoint presentation shows two
soldiers standing with three Afghan children, and a second photo of a
remembrance to a fallen U.S. service member. “Remember those who serve; remember
those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Enterprise Information and OSD Studies began as a pilot
program that was chartered in the Pentagon’s acquisitions office in 2008. It
falls under the purview of Nancy Spruill, director of acquisition resources and
analysis. Its beginnings can be traced to the mid-1980s when, the department
began working to develop standard protocols for data sharing between government
EI’s specific charge is to compile information on major
acquisitions programs quickly and with consistent metrics and protocol, Krzysko
In the past, leaders could get inundated with insufficient
information developed by multiple sources with different methodologies, Krzysko
said. In today’s environment of asymmetrical threats and uncertain budgets,
leaders need the right information quickly, he said.
“If we create an organization that can tackle these problems,
we are in a better position to help those who serve,” he said. “You could
confound yourself with more information, but it’s about getting the right
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has directed that any
budget cuts be done through careful risk analysis, not the kind of across-the-board
cuts that have led to past “hollowing out” of the military. The department
identified $78 billion in savings over five years through the efficiencies
initiative Gates announced last summer. That review began in acquisitions, with
at least 20 systems being curtailed or cancelled.
President Barack Obama has since asked that DOD leaders look
for an additional $400 billion in savings over 12 years, making Enterprise
Information’s work that much more critical.
With a focus on the development and demonstration phase of
acquisitions programs, the Enterprise Information office works to reply to
requests for information in weeks or months, not years, and provides monthly
reviews of major systems covering some $1.7 trillion, Krzysko said.
Defense leaders “decide which side they want to push on,” he
said. “They tell us what their priorities are, and we go after it.”
The office has been breaking some of the historical paradigms
of gathering and using information, not just in the federal government, but also
in industry, Krzysko said. It uses more than 180 data points -- and is on its
way to increasing to 700 data points -- to measure the value of dozens of
programs by looking at areas such as the science and technology, ability for
sustainment, how it is administered, and its ability to meet milestones, he said.
“The end-game for us is about getting the decision-makers the
best information they can have,” he said. “Information is never really perfect.
But if you have that authoritative information, you are better able to make
“I really view this as a core capability,” he added.