SEI to Open West Coast Office



Susan Kushner

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General Interest

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: February 1, 2006

Extending its support of the United States Department of Defense (DoD), civil agencies, and industry, the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) is opening an office in Southern California in 2006. Initially, SEI technical staff at the Southern California site will focus their expertise on the acquisition programs headquartered at the United States Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

In 2005, the SEI supported acquisition efforts for more than 50 projects within the DoD and civil agencies. The principal SEI program that promotes the application of software and systems engineering expertise to the DoD is the Acquisition Support Program (ASP). ASP works with acquisition programs to help them achieve their objectives by applying software and systems engineering products and services in specific contexts.

Revolutionizing the Acquisition of Software-Intensive Systems

Acquisition program managers are challenged not only to grasp practical business concerns, but also to understand topics as diverse as risk identification and mitigation, selection and integration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, process capability, program management, architecture, network survivability, interoperability, source selection, and contract monitoring. The SEI has spent almost two decades compiling a body of knowledge and developing solutions in these areas.

Founded in 2002, ASP helps DoD and other government acquirers make evolutionary and revolutionary improvements in the acquisition of software-intensive systems and provides opportunities to create, apply, and extend new technologies. According to ASP director Brian Gallagher, “The SEI is in the trenches with key acquisition programs to help them define innovative acquisition strategies, identify and mitigate risk, and structure acquisition programs to reduce conflict and establish mutually beneficial relationships among all stakeholders.”

Executing the SMC Mission

SMC is the Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. ASP works closely with SMC to fulfill its primary mission: “Deliver unrivaled space and missile systems to the joint warfighter and our nation.”

To fulfill this mission, SMC manages over $60 billion in contracts each year and exercised an operating budget of $8.6 billion in 2005. Over 6,800 people are employed by the SMC worldwide, about 1000 of them civilians. SMC currently executes 28 highly visible programs. Among these are

  • MILSATCOM (military satellite communications), the primary acquirer of satellite communications systems to satisfy warfighter needs including the
    • advanced extremely high frequency (AEHF) joint service satellite communications system that provides near-worldwide, secure, survivable, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea, and air assets; and the
    • Transformational Satellite Communication (TSAT) System to develop unprecedented satellite communications with Internet-like capability delivering increased situational awareness and targeting information to the warfighter
  • NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) to provide three-dimensional position, velocity, and time data to field forces, civil, and commercial users
  • Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) providing the nation with the very best space-based surveillance capability.

Another SMC project that ASP assists is the Systems Engineering Revitalization (SER) initiative started in 2002. The goal of SER efforts is to apply world-class systems-engineering and program-management practices to SMC’s systems acquisitions. Lt. Gen. (ret) Brian A. Arnold, former commander of SMC stated in a 2002 video message to his staff, “Simply put, we must remember that at the core of effective program and acquisition management are disciplined technical oversight and systems engineering. These are things that we can’t expect our contractors to do for us. Rather, we must do them ourselves by becoming fully engaged with our contractors and value-added partners in the acquisition of military space systems.”

ASP is helping SMC achieve its vision of producing innovative, affordable, operationally effective space systems by providing direct support to several of its acquisition programs. SEI technical staff lead and participate in multi-discipline teams to identify and solve software-acquisition problems using problem-solving research, instrumentation and measurement, and knowledge transfer. These activities include independent technical assessments; pilots; direct support; empirical research including case studies, workshops, and the preparation of lessons learned; presentations; guides; reports; and articles.

Seeking Talent for Deployment in Southern California

Since 1984, the SEI has been identifying, developing, and advocating practices to improve all aspects of software. Its mission is to advance software engineering and related disciplines to ensure the development and operation of systems with predictable and improved cost, schedule, and quality. The SEI currently is seeking talented technical personnel to support its West Coast endeavors and, specifically, wants to fill several positions in 2006.

Staff members in the Southern California office will have an opportunity to understand government acquisition needs, apply new technologies, and establish capabilities to meet the needs of sponsoring organizations and the acquisition community.

Candidates applying for a position in ASP should have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, systems engineering, software engineering, or acquisition management; experience; a proven track record in the development and acquisition of software-intensive systems; and detailed knowledge in at least one core competency of risk management, interoperability, architecture, process improvement, survivability, or component-based design.

For More Information

To learn more about the SEI’s ASP, visit For more information about the SMC, visit

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