Bots are assisting the Department of Defense in determining the best pricing for weapons systems.

A key purpose of the procurement system is to ensure that the government pays fair and acceptable rates for products and services. However, because obtaining those guarantees may be time-consuming and expensive for both agencies and suppliers, the military services are looking to automation for assistance.

The Army, for example, is trying to complement its ranks of price experts with algorithms that have the potential to automate some of the most time-consuming parts of determining fairness.The Army is attempting to allow bots to crawl through its data systems in order to arrive at trustworthy price determinations. The objective is to cut down on the amount of time its contracting officers and contract experts spend on “low value” work that might be done by robots. According to an Army spokesperson, the more data the bots have access to, the more likely they are to arrive at reliable pricing.

The Air Force has begun a pilot initiative to reduce the time it takes to produce accurate cost estimates by 85%. It utilizes machines to sift through historical pricing for specific components, just as the Army experiment. “We could actually reach to a point where incumbents’ written recommendations for follow-on initiatives become obsolete,” a source adds.

Holt stated that in a hypothetical situation, DoD procurement authorities would be allowed to provide exemptions from the Truth in Negotiations Act’s requirements. When contracting officers get into a sole-source contract, the law compels them to obtain verified cost and pricing data considerably more often. However, any “disruption” would necessitate procedural as well as technical modifications.

In the Truth in Negotiations Act, lawmakers provided the Department of Defense the authority to test sole-source procurements in which procurement authorities might “tailor” standard criteria. Program officials, with high-level Pentagon permission, are able to engage into arrangements with suppliers based mostly on their own data regarding past prices under those trimmed-back legal criteria. Chuck Hagel, the Defense Secretary, “The door is open, or at least cracked, for us to show that we can calculate risk correctly.”

By: Mariatu Alale