By Douglas Bryce, Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD)
The chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threat is not new. It has evolved over time and can be traced from the use of chemical weapons in World War I through the 20th century and into threats we face today. In fact, the last five years revealed the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident, the need to destroy Syria’s weapons of mass destruction material, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The constant question on my mind is, “What will be next?” Will it be man-made threats from state or non-state actors? Or will a natural disaster make itself known? And just how does an organization posture itself to stay ahead of an ever- evolving CBRN threat? One thing that is certain in our mission environment is that we cannot remain stagnant regarding how we assess and combat new and emerging threats.
Changing How We Do Business
The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) is the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) single focal point for the advanced development of CBRN countermeasures. As such, we must not only keep our finger on the pulse of technology, but it’s paramount that we also remain flexible regarding how we do business. We must work to refine processes and develop creative solutions that shorten the time it takes to get critical capabilities in the hands of those who need them and spiral in new or better technology.
The process of fielding enhanced and new capabilities to our service members can be challenging, and we must partner across the federal government, industry, academia, and with international allies to get it done. For program managers in both the DoD and industry, navigating the rigid DoD Decision Support Systems related to budget, requirements and acquisition is often a difficult and lengthy process. In order to get needed capabilities to our warfighters, we must explore creative procurement and fielding solutions. The JPEO-CBD is doing just that and here a few ways we’re revamping the way we do business:
- Omnibus Contracts
Omnibus research, development, and procurement contract, enable us to enable us to award overarching contracts to all who qualify for supplies or services previously provided or performed under separate contracts. Then we compete a delivery order for a specific RDT&E or procurement actions/program. The benefit of this include reduced administrative costs and time, economies of scale, and single contractor interface while maintaining competition at the task order/delivery level.
- Other Transaction Agreements
Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) enable the JPEO to collaborate with industry partners more efficiently. An OTA is a special vehicle used by federal agencies for obtaining or advancing research and development (R&D) or prototypes. The reason for creating OTAs is that the government needs to obtain leading-edge R&D (and prototypes) from commercial sources, but some performers are unwilling or unable to comply with voluminous procurement regulations and processes. In general, procurement regulations and certain procurement statutes do not apply to OTAs and therefore permit the flexibility necessary to develop agreements tailored to a particular transaction. The JPEO-CBD has established a Medical Countermeasure Systems OTA Consortium, intending to use it to collaborate with industry partners on developing candidate medical countermeasures for chemical and biological defense. The consortium is comprised of a well-balanced and uniquely qualified mixture of traditional and non-traditional contractors, small and large business, for-profit and not-for-profit entities, and academic organizations. Any interested company, academic institution, or contractor can become a member and join the consortium to widen knowledge and technical expertise to continue to advance in technologies and meet Department of Defense needs. While this type of contract promotes competition, the pool of contenders is limited to members of the OTA Consortium.
- Advanced Technology Demonstrations
Advanced Technology Demonstrations (ATDs) enable us to accelerate the materiel development process in other areas of the JPEO-CBD portfolio. ATDs are demonstrations of the maturity and potential of advanced technologies for enhanced military operational capability or cost effectiveness. Our recently completed Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition (JUPITR) ATD is addressing the need for biosurveillance on the Korean Peninsula. The objective was to significantly increase defense capabilities to mitigate impending biological threats to U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and the Republic of Korea. The JUPITR ATD has demonstrated capabilities to this end, and multiple unified combatant commands have expressed interest in bringing the same biosurveillance capability to their areas of responsibility. JUPITR provided a web-based
portal that facilitates unclassified collaboration by automatically collecting and sharing biological threat information as well as generating hazard analysis and situation reports to better inform command decision-making; new, cutting-edge laboratory equipment to identify biological toxins and pathogens of concern much more rapidly than current systems in use at USFK facilities; an assessment of a variety of environmental field sensors to determine the best product for biological detection and identification by USFK; and the integration of a suite of non-chemical and non-biological force protection sensors, such as cameras and radar, with chemical and biological standoff and point sensors to demonstrate a chemical and biological early warning capability.
- We must continue partnering across the federal government and with civil authorities to ensure support of and alignment with the prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery tenants highlighted within Presidential Policy Directive 8 regarding national preparedness.
Additionally, we work with interagency, international, industry and academia partners to employ the four CBRN defense operational elements of sense, shape, shield and sustain.
Innovation is Key
Accomplishing the JPEO-CBD’s mission requires innovative approaches to addressing evolving and dynamic threats faced by the joint and international CBRN communities. Our challenge remains clear: stay ahead of the evolving threat. And we’ll continue to assess processes to ensure the JPEO-CBD is properly postured to play its critical role in the security of our nation.
We have mechanisms in place to decrease delays in our acquisition process, but we know we must also address the need for unprecedented levels of capability integration and layered defense that use situational awareness as the hub. The ability of our warfighters and first responders to survive and win in today’s complex CBRN environment hinges upon what we know, and how soon we know it. As the threat continues to grow due to advances in science, it is imperative that we find better ways of combatting the challenges through innovation and integration.
Ultimately, our partnerships across the U.S. federal government, academia, industry, and allied nations must expand to be inclusive rather than exclusive as we work to improve the articulation and development of whole system approaches to our shared global challenges.