The Navy purchases thousands of hardware and software items for different acquisition programs from multiple contractors. It is incredibly difficult and time-consuming for one program office to stay abreast of what is being acquired in others as well as what the Navy has already purchased that could potentially meet broader requirements. Therefore, a program manager’s inclination is to look outward toward industry for solutions. Compounding this issue, we live in an environment where software and hardware change overnight, and often we place too much initial emphasis on engineering a solution to a technical problem before it has been properly defined. To overcome these challenges, we must work smarter to understand technological problems before immediately jumping to solutions. We must develop a better understanding of the speed of our decision-making and the areas in which we remain organizationally stovepiped. For all this to come together, we need more transparency and accountability to protect our ideas: Open Architecture (OA) is the enabler.
In November 2012, the Navy unveiled a new OA strategy that aligns with the Chief of Naval Operations’ call for lower-cost platforms, modularity of payloads, and strategic reuse. OA’s core principles are modular design and disclosure, reusable application software, interoperability, life-cycle affordability, competition, and collaboration—or, in the simplest terms, transparency and reuse.