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Wert provides Digital update, insight into DPA efforts

  • Published
  • By K. Houston Waters
  • 66 Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – As we look at things like Advanced Battle Management System, inherent in that is open architecture, and inherent in open architecture is being good at software development, a Hanscom Air Force Base senior official told members of the Hanscom Representatives Association during their virtual Zoom meeting Oct. 14.

Steven Wert, program executive officer Digital, who oversees 3,900 Airmen, government civilians and support contractors with a total program value of over $19 billion, shared his vision for the future of his directorate, discussed how Digital is supporting the Department of Health and Human Services in the fight against COVID-19, and detailed the organization’s relationship with small businesses.

“In the Digital Directorate, we have two major focus areas,” said Wert. “The first is speed, innovation, technology, and advancing technology adoption. The second is a dedicated effort to plan and execute extremely well. For those who know this Directorate, we keep score.” 

Software development is one example of where Digital is working to advance technology. Detachment 12, also known as Kessel Run, recently had a breakthrough in improving the Autonomic Information Logistics System, a program used to set the weekly flying and maintenance schedule for the F-35 Joint Program Office.

“Our Mad Hatter effort, which demonstrated how an Air Force software factory could improve ALIS, was fully successful,” said Wert. “The F-35 JPO launched a project called Operational Data Integrated Network, and Kessel Run is the interim platform and application integrator.”

Over time, Wert expects ODIN to be stood-up as an independent cloud-based platform. Kessel Run will then transfer software application integration responsibilities to the 517th Software Engineering Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. A timetable has yet to be established for the transition.

Another highlight of the presentation was Digital’s work to support the Department of Health and Human Services in the fight against COVID-19. Currently, five Divisions in the directorate are leveraging their acquisition networks to rapidly assist Defense Production Act efforts to increase industry production capacity and therefore increase the national supply of medical equipment and supplies.

“Our small teams have the very rewarding experience of applying their acquisition talents to the COVID situation,” said Wert. “They are contracting with medical supply companies so they can quickly obtain the funds necessary to expand their production capacity. It’s great to know that we’re leveraging the experience we have in this unique business we call acquisition to do some real good for the nation.”

Wert also spoke on his directorate’s support of small businesses. In 2013, less than 4 percent of Digital work went to small businesses. By 2019, that number had increased to 24 percent.

“This year I expect to reach that number again, which is amazing, because it is truly diversifying our business relationships,” he said.

HRA brings representatives from small, large, and start-up Hanscom area businesses together to encourage collaboration in the acquisition process.

Joe Bradley, director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems and associate director of engineering and technical management at Hanscom, is set to speak at next month’s HRA event, which is currently scheduled for Nov. 10.