Characteristics Not Requirements

C-SPAN covered Army Operations & Priorities. General James McConville spoke about Army procurement moving to characteristics not requirements in order to work with industry partners such as Microsoft on software and devices innovation. video

His specific answer is key to understanding how modern complex software is now so different.

# Transcript

People often talk the old saying, you want to fail early.

Gen. James McConville. Army Chief of Staff. page

I don't think with that system we failed early. I think we learned early. Here's my point.

This is for a lot of the industry that we're working very closely with. We're going to do things differently in the army.

Many of you are familiar with our old industrial aged linear processes where we developed large requirement documents over five to seven years and passed them over to our acquisition professionals and over the next five to seven years we tried to develop a system and maybe 15 or 20 years came out the other end after spending billions of dollars and may have had what we wanted or didn't have what we wanted.

We are changing that process and you can see very shortly a list of characteristics coming out and so we're going -- we're actually moving away from the word requirements because it means so much to those in the business that it actually constrains innovation, so we are coming out with a list of characteristics that we want for this manned fighting vehicle. We will be asking industry to come in with a design, probably five other transaction authorities capability and we're going to ask industry to come in with technology that they think with would fit in this design and we're going to incentivize that.

Then once we get that back, we're going to take a look at the characteristics and say hey, we need to define these a little better so the characteristics will get sharper and go to a detailed design and we'll down select from that and then we'll go to a prototype design and then we'll actually make sure that we can build it. Out of the prototype, not until we build the prototype will we get the requirements.

What we believe is then we'll know exactly what the trades are and we'll be able to proceed in a much quicker manner without spending a lot of money or without requiring industry to go after requirements that we didn't think we needed or that were unattainable.