Friday, February 5, 2016

New Army Cyber Challenge

On November 18, 2015, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), Army Cyber Command and Second Army (ARCYBER & 2A) and TRADOC held an Industry Day to brief interested contractors on the Cyber Challenge opportunity to be released through C5. ( This Cyber Challenge is intended to address the technical feasibility of a bottom-up approach to investigating continuous monitoring and risk scoring, focused initially on developing a risk-based score card capability tool at operational and tactical echelons with a software-based prototype solution.
The Army is in the process of compiling its requirements package. As soon as C5 receives the Request for White Papers, it will, in turn, release it to the membership.
Only C5 Members are permitted to participate in the upcoming ASA(ALT) Cyber Challenge. For more information on membership or this opportunity, please contact C5.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Army Announces Cyber Innovation Challenge

Check out the Army Cyber Innovation Challenge!

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), Army Cyber Command and Second Army (ARCYBER & 2A), and TRADOC are initiating a Cyber Innovation Challenge to investigate software-based prototype solutions.
The innovation challenge looks to industry partners - especially non-traditional defense contractors - to deliver prototype solutions for rapid evaluation using a flexible acquisition model known as Other Transaction Authority.

#Cyber #PlugFest #AFEI

Eric Westreich
PlugFest Consortium Lead
Delivering Good Government Systems Fast

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Defining Enterprise Information Value

Defining Enterprise Information Value 

Let's say that an enterprise is a complex collection of semiautonomous units that share some common goals.  An Enterprise Information System (EIS), then, is a distributed, networked, set of information processing nodes that services the units of the enterprise, and especially information transactions across the units. 

This concept of EIS is highly scalable by definition.  An arbitrarily large and growing set of processing nodes might comprise an Enterprise Information System of Systems.  A processing node might be a microprocessor or a super computer.  Subsets of EIS nodes comprise subsystems or components.  The ability to rapidly compose systems from components, and systems of systems from systems, is a central value attribute of an EIS. Accordingly, the design of an EIS must be “open” to the extent that it allows member units of the enterprise to autonomously expand and federate horizontally. 

The Value Assurance Framework (VAF) aims to improve the predicable level of global success at developing large EIS.  VAF is based on close observation of many success and failure cases, and includes artifacts that capture reusable, practices that have proven to be effective for designing, building, validating, verifying, certifying, maintaining, and operating EIS. 

Among other definitions, Merriam Webster’s first definition for value is “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged.”  In this sense, “value” is different than “cost.”  “Value” is perceived worth, perhaps in terms of money, but not necessarily. 

Possession of a product or service sooner rather than later is often valued.  Similarly, the value of product or service usually changes over time.  It might increase (wine, antiques, tickets as the event approaches) or, decrease (used cars, electronic equipment, out-of-style clothing) over time. 

Value is often measured in terms of the effect of the procured product or service, e.g. time saved, pain reduced, pleasure achieved, productivity increased, i.e. utility.  The first definition of “utility” in the online Oxford dictionary is “the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial.”  Hence, customer requirements are closely related to utility.  Indeed, if the customer values the utility delivered, then the customer’s requirements must have been satisfied, by definition.  This definition of utility is also consistent with the economic utility theory.  For example,  the Neumann & Morgenstern Utility Theorem explains mathematically how “rationale actors” will invest in ways that maximize the probability that they will achieve desired outcomes, but with due consideration of appetite for risk and subjective preferences.

Cost is the price of the utility delivered, perhaps in monetary terms, but not necessarily. Costs might also be measured in terms of time.  Cost can also be associated with opportunity, i.e., the customer could have bought something else, and/or the producer could have delivered something else.  

Value depends on utility, cost, and time.  

In business, a consumer’s objective is to receive maximum utility-per-cost.  A provider’s objective is to maximize the margin between the consumer’s perception of utility, measured in terms of the price she is willing to pay, and the cost to produce or provide a product or service.  In either case, best practices evolve around ability to increase the perceived margin between costs (including production time) and utility delivered.

IT is evolving so quickly and unpredictably that it makes sense to manage risks like the most successful financial portfolio mangers. VAF maps traditional acquisition artifacts and processes to the investment portfolio metaphor.
As in any other business, the objective of an EIS provider-consumer ecosystem is to focus processes and tools to produce more perceived customer utility, faster, at lower production costs.  That is, the EIS business objective is to create and continuously evolve a value delivery chain. Note that “value delivery chain” is a well-developed industrial concept.  Trademarked processes for developing customer-centric leading and lagging metrics designed to optimize enterprise value delivery chains continuously evolve.  Examples include Lean, Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, ITIL, Business Process Management (BPM), and Scrum.

VAF is informed by a broad baseline of research, analysis, tools, and literature. VAF captures recurring best practices in reusable templates.

Ultimately, the purpose of an EIS is to deliver value-added information.  Information is useful if (and arguably only if) it leads to better decisions.  A decision might be as mundane as which movie to watch, or as critical as whether or not to launch a missile at one target or another.  Regardless, measures of utility in this regard should address the confidence in, and quality of, the decision supported. 

The concept of utility is more abstract than the concept of cost or time.  That is, it can be difficult to quantify utility while costs and time are much easier to measure.  For example consumers value convenience as a utility.  What is the unit of convenience? It might not be impossible to quantify convenience per se.  On the other hand, time-and-effort-avoided are essentially equivalent to convenience.  Time saved by making mouse clicks instead of trips to the shopping mall, or by automatically downloading data instead of entering it manually, is measurable.

Consumers value confidence and quality.  For example they want certainty (confidence) that they are choosing good cost options from among the many available alternatives of varying merit (quality). Confidence and quality are not always directly quantifiable, but there are viable proxies.  For example, various consumer guides use number-of-stars as a indicators of confidence and/or quality.  Stars can be keyed to measurable quality factors such as security, reliability, safety, timeliness, or performance in some cases.  Sometimes, even though the number of stars is ostensibly objective, that number is keyed to subjective opinions of (hopefully) trusted evaluators.  In both cases, star assignments that are backed up by trusted logos (certifications) such as Consumer Report, Underwriters’ Labs, National Institute of Standards (NIST,) or Oprah’s Book Club, make the star ratings more trustworthy. 

VAF defines utility of delivered information, as its worthiness to support a critical decision by increasing confidence in achieving desired outcomes. Critical decisions include especially changes to planned courses of actions, or allocation of resources to initiate new courses of action. Under this definition, leading measures of information utility would likely include combinations of information timeliness, breadth of data surveyed, pedigree of data surveyed, security, relevance, and reliability.  Utility might also include the concept of surprise, i.e. discovery of important new insight.  In this sense, information that provides new perspective or insight, i.e. a new worldview, is significant.  Significant information provides more utility than information that is merely relevant. Proxy measures for significance are the same Measures of Effectiveness (MoE) used to quantify targeted operational outcomes. If delivered information enhances MoE, then the delivered information must have been significant, i.e. had high utility.

VAF uses objective measures of desired EIS outcomes, e.g. probability of good or bad outcomes, proficiency scores, latency, reliability, accuracy, availability, etc., as proxy measures of EIS utility.  Choosing these metrics carefully, and properly defining their enterprise interrelationships to manage risks are critical to EIS success.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

DHS Highlights PlugFest at Maritime Security Conference

San Diego, CA - August 19, 2015 DHS Science & Technology Directorate highlights PlugFest at the Maritime Security 2015 West Conference.

Exhibitors  participated in a PlugFest hosted by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. During the PlugFest  solutions providers included camera, radar, sonar, and other feeds to test integration with the Integrated Maritime Domain Enterprise. The MDE is the latest information sharing platform designed to assist law enforcement and government officials maintain coastal security and vigilence. 
Attendees are encouraged to learn about the IMDE and provide user-based feedback before the system becomes widely deployed across the United States.

The DI2E PlugFest team lended their expertise, and were a critical part of making the event a success.

The PlugFest occured throughout the conference on the exhibition floor. 

#MarSec 2015 #PlugFest #MDE

About Eric Westreich:     

        Co-founder and industry lead of the PlugFest Consortium, over 300 volunteers from government, industry, and academia working on the same problem, at the same time, together to deliver good government system fast.
        Founder of Epic Footprints designed to help you build your clear, distinct, and lasting business footprint.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Air Force OSA OTA RFP closes on August 10th

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate (RI) - AFRL/RI, on behalf of the Undersecretary of the Air Force for Acquisition's Office of Transformational Innovation (SAF/AQTI), released a presolicitation notice to describe the Government's interest in establishing a Section 845 Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), with an eligible entity or group of entities (Other Transaction Lead organization), to include industry, academic, non-profit, and not-for-profit partners, for research and development efforts to support AFRL/RI and customer requirements as related to information systems. 

The Open System Acquisition Initiative (OSAI) - formerly called PlugFest Plus - is part of the Secretary of the Air Force's Bending the Cost Curve Initiative. The Government anticipates establishing an OTA with a new or existing consortium that has significant non-traditional contractor participants. 

The goal of this consortium community is to research, develop, test, measure, demonstrate, integrate, and deliver tools for the Air Force using "open-systems" based Command, Control, Communications, and Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (C4ISR) information sharing Information Systems (IS).  These systems include: Distributed Common Ground Station (DCGS); Theater Battle Management Core Systems (TBMCS); Air Operations Center-Weapon System (AOC); Open Mission System (OMS); SecureView; Information Support Server Environment (ISSE) Guard; Cybersecurity environments; Web Temporal Analysis System (WebTAS); Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE); Collaboration Gateway (CG) and other systems to be determined by the Government. 

#PlugFest #plugfestplus @agileacquisition 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Air Force Open Systems Architecture Presentation

Washington DC, June 22, 2015: New Air Force Open System Architecture Presentation Available.

In order to help PlugFest Plus Participants, a new presentation on Open Systems Architecture is available to view and download at

This presentation will help participants, understand the lessons learned during the latest PlugFest Plus Agile Government Systems event.

#plugfest #plugfestplus #agile acquisition

About Eric Westreich:     

        Co-founder and industry lead of the PlugFest Consortium, over 300 volunteers from government, industry, and academia working on the same problem, at the same time, together to deliver good government system fast.
        Founder of Epic Footprints designed to help you build your clear, distinct, and lasting business footprint.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Using Your Customers, Customers as a Critical Metric

San Diego, CA Jun 15, 2015:
At the San Diego Startup Week,  Evan Malter, founder of ZipCap spoke about making a difference with a new metric for business loans.

Evan Malter speaks about the measure of business risk.

ZipCap uses customer loyalty  as the primary measure for financial credit-worthiness. Customers increase opportunities for business loans simply by saying, "I'll be back," with no other obligations.

According to ZipCap,  
"ZipCap was founded on a mission to support local Mom & Pops and is being built by a team of passionate localists who know that we can make a difference. We love local businesses and the people behind them. We love what these businesses mean for our towns, for our economies and for the way people feel and interact in our world. We know we are not alone."
Successful PlugFests are built on a foundation of Agile Verification and Validation, in other words measuring the right things and ensuring that those measurement are directly connected to desired customer outcomes.

What lessons does ZipCap hold for agile government systems acquisition? There are creative ways to use customers of customers as sources for metrics.

#SDSW #zipcap #plugfest #plugfestplus #agile acquisition

About Eric Westreich:     

        Co-founder and industry lead of the PlugFest Consortium, over 300 volunteers from government, industry, and academia working on the same problem, at the same time, together to deliver good government system fast.
        Founder of Epic Footprints designed to help you build your clear, distinct, and lasting business footprint.