Department of Defense (DoD) components have successfully monitored and managed four contracts and one cooperative agreement for the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (AWCFT) – otherwise known as Project Maven – but the team failed to document its approach to monitoring metrics, processes, and procedures.

That’s a top-line finding in a report from the DoD Inspector General (IG), which evaluates whether the Army Contracting Command (ACC), Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and AWCFT monitored Project Maven contracts in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), and DoD policy.

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According to the report, an ACC Aberdeen Proving Ground Contracting Center contracting officer appointed a Contracting Officer Representative (COR) for the four contracts and the cooperative agreement in accordance with FAR. The contracts and agreement were successfully monitored by the ARL COR and AWCFT Technical Monitor in accordance with FAR, DFARS, Defense Grant and Agreement Regulatory System, and other contract requirements.

However, the approach to monitoring through formalizing reporting metrics, processes, and procedures for monitoring and management Project Maven contracts was not documented. Without a formalized process, the DoD IG says there will be “an increased risk of lapses occurring in the monitoring and management of the Project Maven contracts as the program grows and as project personnel change.”

Further, future DoD acquisitions related to AI and machine learning programs may not benefit from the monitoring and management lessons learned, the IG said.

The DoD IG made two recommendations:

  1. Having the “Chief of the AWCFT formalize Project Maven’s processes and procedures for monitoring and managing AI development contracts to ensure knowledge management, continuity, and efficiency when the project is transferred to a mission owner for the reference by subsequent novel technology projects and cross-functional teams;” and
  2. “the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition conduct a review of the AWFCT’s emerging technology acquisition processes and procedures to evaluate whether any of the processes and procedures used by the AWFCT should be further formalized in acquisition policies, implemented by other programs and cross-functional teams, or incorporated into relevant curriculum and training.”

AWCFT has addressed the first recommendation sufficiently and the DoD IG considers that recommendation closed. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition concurred with the second recommendation, which the DoD IG now considers resolved, but not closed.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.