DOD rethinks digital engineering
The strategy emphasizes the need for culture shift, formalized development processes and innovation to modernize legacy defense systems.
The Defense Department’s head technologist last week released a new strategy outlining how the DOD should modernize its networks to create better integrated virtual environments from design to sustainment.
Michael Griffin, defense under secretary for research and engineering, outlined a five-point strategy in a report released July 5 that calls for formalizing development and integration of enterprise program decision-making models, providing an enduring and authoritative
source of truth, incorporating innovation to improve engineering practices, and building an infrastructure that can support activities as necessary for improving legacy support systems. The strategy also calls for creating a workforce culture that adopts and supports digital engineering and providing an “authoritative source of truth” as core goals.
“In order to meet the National Defense Strategy’s lines of effort, we must modernize our defense systems and prioritize speed of delivery to be able to fight and win the wars of the future,” Griffin wrote in the document’s foreword.
“One way we can do this is by incorporating the use of digital computing, analytical capabilities, and new technologies to conduct engineering in more integrated virtual environments to increase customer and vendor engagement, improve threat response timelines, foster infusion of technology, reduce cost of documentation, and impact sustainment affordability,” he wrote.
The strategy aims to promote use of “digital representations of systems and components and the use of digital artifacts to design and sustain national defense systems,” DOD said in announcing the report.
Griffin said the strategy should reduce the need for mock-ups and physical testing. The strategy sketches out a few digital engineering initiatives, such as updating policies that promote data rights and intellectual property and developing cross-service virtual environment pilots.
The document is a broad-stroke guide to what services, agencies and components need to implement successful digital engineering practices. The “how,” Griffin said, is up to them to figure out.
Additionally, Griffin wrote that the services are expected to develop implementation plans for the strategy this year “to ensure the Department advances this timely and imperative effort.”