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CHIPS Articles: PEO Digital will change global AF software acquisition

PEO Digital will change global AF software acquisition
By Benjamin Newell, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs - September 24, 2018
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- Dr. Will Roper, the Air Force's senior civilian acquisition leader, redesignated Program Executive Office Battle Management as PEO Digital, to be headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, Sept. 17.

PEO Digital will build on the success of Project Kessel Run and other Battle Management programs to standardize and spread Agile DevOps software acquisition processes throughout the Air Force. Steven Wert, PEO Battle Management at Hanscom, will oversee the standup of the new organization and serve as the Air Force Digital program executive officer, applying his decades of acquisition experience to the new organization.

"We have to shift from thinking of software development from being a product to being a service," said Roper. "In today's world, you need to modify code if you're still fighting with it. The longer your code sits stationary, the more dormant it is. We have to get quality code for both the taxpayer and the warfighter."

Project Kessel Run's mission is to build and deliver software and applications that would digitize and simplify the process by which Airmen organize and task the combat air forces. With the standup of PEO Digital, Kessel Run's mission expands to every Air Operations Center, and their work will touch every single Air Force mission.

"We began to transition software programs across the Battle Management portfolio throughout fiscal year 2018, adopting commercial practices very different from traditional defense acquisition strategies," said Wert, the new Digital PEO. "We established a directorate-wide goal last summer to challenge the process and innovate, and now as PEO Digital, we have the charge to continue those efforts and help apply them throughout the Air Force."

The existing PEO Battle Management portfolio will remain in PEO Digital. New responsibilities include fielding minimum viable software products as fast as possible, designing for the user, automating cyber security processes, operating on the cloud and integrating developmental and operational testing.

The Battle Management Directorate, as the organization enabling the work of the PEO, will become the Digital Directorate and continue to report to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. A formal organizational change process is under way.

"Agile can be secure because it is fast, and so the risk of fielding it is decreased," said Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, the Air Force's director of information technology acquisition process development, at an Air Force acquisitions event in February. "But we have to trade in the outdated artifacts of our acquisition business for a living process. That process will allow us to fund for the unknowable requirements of the future."

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Will Roper, right, looks on with Steven Wert, Battle Management program executive officer, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., during a presentation at Project Kessel Run in the WeWork shared space in Boston, July 30, 2018. Roper and Wert visited the site to hear how Airmen, contractors and civilians are writing custom software applications for use at Air Operations Centers.  U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Will Roper, right, looks on with Steven Wert, Battle Management program executive officer, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., during a presentation at Project Kessel Run in the WeWork shared space in Boston, July 30, 2018. Roper and Wert visited the site to hear how Airmen, contractors and civilians are writing custom software applications for use at Air Operations Centers. U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki
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