software (whiteMocca/

IT Infrastructure

The Army's plan to tackle intellectual property woes

One of the key hang-ups in acquisition is intellectual property, and the Army is hoping to change that with new approaches, especially when it comes to software.

The Army will often have weapons systems for decades -- frequently much longer than anticipated -- and will need access to technical data for maintenance and upgrades, Alexis Lasselle Ross, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategy and acquisition reform, said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event June 18.

The trick is determining how much data is needed and who to share it with, while staying away from private companies' proprietary information.

The Army's new IP policy aims to increase communication with private industry, develop tailored strategies for each program and negotiate data, licensing and costs early on in the acquisition process.

Previously, the Army would try to get as much data as possible, which locked the service into long-term arrangements with a company and discouraged others from doing business with DOD, she said.

"We have to think through what the unique characteristics of the systems and components are," Ross said, and "when we do need access to data, [define] what level of specificity."

For software, the Army is shifting toward modularity, specifically the modular open systems approach. "We're going to start seeing more and more weapons systems designed with a MOSA in mind," she said.

"The key is interfaces and making sure we're using standards, and [being able to] plug and play that component out with a new black box. We don't need to see everything in that black box but need to be able to take it in and out and make sure it's compatible."

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.

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