The nominee for the role of top technology official in Biden’s administration wants to see an increase in budgeting processes that allow for more innovation and lower sustainment costs. Heidi Shyu told Senators that additional early-stage funding for the Department of Defense’s weapon platforms, technology projects, and other systems would keep programs running and be more cost efficient in the long term.
“Today, sustainment makes up 70% of total weapon system cost, with development and procurement making up 30%. DOD should strive to flip this ratio and invest more in the development of new technologies than it does in the sustainment of legacy systems,” Shyu told lawmakers.
This change would provoke a shift in funding practices and allow for progress towards a more agile development of modular systems. This will ultimately make it easier and cheaper to fix errors that arise later on. Currently, programs run through a two-year budgetary cycle where requests need to be proposed by the Department of Defense to Congress before they can get off the ground. At the current pace of development, military technology is often outdated by the time it is fully implemented. The two-year budgeting cycle has hit software acquisition especially hard – code needs frequent updates to patch security flaws and bugs. “Software is ubiquitous in all of our weapons systems and we have to think about how we can develop software continuously and test it continuously,” Shyu stated.
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