The Air Force Research Laboratory’s biggest impediment to being more effective is the speed at which it contracts deals with industry partners, Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFRL commander, told lawmakers Wednesday. “That feedback came back resoundingly from internal customers and external,” McMurry told members of the House Armed Services Committee emerging threats and capabilities panel. An external team will review the AFRL’s processes and figure out how to accelerate them. McMurry said Direct to Phase II and other authorities that allow AFRL to contract with small businesses quickly have been very useful. Retaining contracting officers and other acquisition personnel has also been a challenge, McMurry said. “It doesn’t matter that you’re a lab, you’re really focused on trying to make those same kind of quality decisions and preparations to put something on contract,” he said. “Our researchers need to be competent at that, but we really need them to be researchers.” During the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference earlier this month, McMurray said the service needs to ground its requirements in experiment-driven reality to draw a “more achievable” baseline and ensure higher success rates.
Top lawmakers on Capitol Hill announced Dec. 2 that they have reached a deal to extend the continuing resolution funding the government into February. Now, the House and Senate will have to scramble to pass the legislation by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 3 to avoid a temporary shutdown.