open discussion. The key is in developing a culture of continuous improvement where people have an open mindset and program managers try to help the Blue Team find concerns before they become problems."
The Blue Teaming concept transcends technical issues, too. Virtually every aspect of an acquisition program can benefit from this sort of early intervention, says Sue Angell, director of Electronic Systems Center's Acquisition Center of Excellence.
"We talk a lot about streamlining the source selection process, but we must broaden the definition to also include the steps leading up to the actual selection process. Most of the value will come from better managing those steps," she said. "It's important, for instance, to look at the program risks at the same time we accept the work load. We also need to ensure we have solid requirements, a sound acquisition strategy and that we put out a very clear request for proposals."
Angell's office is already helping program managers with all of this. As the center works to institutionalize a broadened version of the Blue Teaming concept, it's possible that most programs would have independent specialists from the ACE review and help them perform their pre-source selection activities, she said.
Other functional offices such as contracting and legal could also play a part on such teams.
"There are a lot of resources that can be brought together to make sure a program starts out in great shape," Angell said. "And that's the best way to help ensure it stays healthy."
One of the benefits of the Blue Team process is that once it's been operating for awhile, it should start to yield some recurring signals that serve as "leading indicators" of potential problems.
"These will tell us when we need to form a Blue Team, if we haven't already," Byrne said.
Blue Teams are just one of many ways Electronic Systems Center is doing business consistent with the Air Force Smart Ops 21 construct. Smart Ops 21, which seeks to improve productivity while reducing waste, relies on proven industry practices such as Six Sigma and Lean.
"All of Electronic Systems Center's processes are actually based on a culture of continuous process improvement, and that's really what Smart Ops is all about," said Dr. James Cunningham, Electronic Systems Center's director of engineering.