2. Advanced Concepts and Technology (ACT II) Program
The Army of the future faces the challenges of an uncertain political landscape against a backdrop of rapid technology growth. To explore the possibilities of the future while maintaining its warfighting strengths, the Army today has brought together a unique team to define the technologies that will shape the smaller, Force Projection Army of the 21st Century.
This team is comprised of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Battle Laboratories (BLs) and the Army's Research, Development, and Acquisition Community. Together, they are helping define the technology that will lead the Army to its Force XXI vision.
The Army's Advanced Concepts and Technology II (ACT II) Program enables direct industry involvement in this important endeavor. ACT II supports Battle Lab experiments through competitive funding of industry's most advanced technologies, prototypes, and nondevelopmental items. Ultimately, the Army selects proposals that demonstrate the greatest potential to fulfill warfighting capability requirements.
ACT II is sponsored by the Army Chief of Staff and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition. The Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the Army Materiel Command (AMC), and the Army Research Office (ARO) collaborate to build ACT II partnerships between the Army, industry, and the academic community.
The objective of the ACT II program is to address Army concerns using technologies that are mature or nearing maturity in the commercial sector. The program provides funding to demonstrate the technical feasibility of such technologies that, if successful, can either be integrated as part of the regular funded Army research and development (R&D) program, be selected to enter into the Army Warfighting Rapid Acquisition Program (WRAP), or be transitioned to an end item. ACT II does not fund established technology base programs, but seeks unconventional approaches to address Army needs. This access to the commercial market is intended to shorten the acquisition cycle and reduce the development cost which, under the conventional acquisition process, often requires long lead times for a research idea to reach the soldier. Because of its small size in comparison to conventional development programs (a maximum of $1.5 million per project), the ACT II program generally supports those highly leveraged efforts that appear likely to have an important impact on the Army if successful.
The ACT II program provides seed money for proof-of-principle demonstrations of high-risk/high-payoff concepts proposed by non-Army sources. Such efforts provide an opportunity to try unconventional approaches and/or technology not currently supported in the mission-oriented Army programs. ACT II projects are frequently cost-shared or leveraged efforts partly supported by others.
The ACT Committee was established in 1974 by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition; with abolition of that office, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASARDA) directed the Army Materiel Command (AMC) to manage ACT for the benefit of AMC and the Chief of Army Engineers.
Beginning in FY94, the program was recast as ACT II to provide direct support to the TRADOC Battle Labs (BLs) and the Chief of Staff of the army's Louisiana Maneuvers (LAM) Task Force. With the user more actively involved, ACT II allows better evaluation of new capabilities enabled by ACT II technologies, and provides more responsive support from the RDTE community. The ACT II program provides funding and a mechanism for industry and academia to demonstrate mature technologies, prototypes, interfaces, software, and/or systems for assessment by the BLs as explained in Chapter II.
Proposals are centrally solicited using a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) as prepared by the Army Research Office. The BAA requests that prospective offerors initially submit a two-page concept paper highlighting the technical and warfighting merits of their proposal. Those proposals ranked most desirable in terms of warfighting merit are centrally approved for negotiation and award by the ACT II Committee. The resulting contracts are awarded through various Army procurement offices and are jointly managed by BL project officers and technical experts in appropriate Army labs and RDECs.
In 1994, its inaugural year, ACT II funded a total of 28 projects. In 1995, 35 projects were selected for funding and have completed demonstrations and final reports. The 1996 ACT II Program is currently proceeding with 25 projects scheduled for execution in the current year. To date, 27 projects from 1994 and 1995 have been identified for further investigation, resulting in a Concept Exploration Program, integration into other current acquisition programs as product improvements, or inclusion in the army's Warfighting Rapid Acquisition Program. ACT II funding was $20 million in FY94, $40 million in FY95, and $12.5 million in FY96; it is approximately $11 million for FY97.
ACT II is an ongoing program within the Army. An industry-focused Pre-Proposal Conference for the FY97 ACT II was held during April 1996. The Broad Agency Announcement for the FY97 cycle was released on 6 May 1996, with concept papers due to ARO by 31 May 1996. Full proposals were invited in early July 1996 and responses evaluated during AugustSeptember 1996. Contracts for the FY97 program should be signed during December 1996.