HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- An office here can help acquisition directorate personnel with test and evaluation, from serving existing needs to helping recruit and develop a world-class T&E workforce.
The Center Test Authority, or CTA, with six locations, including Hanscom, is the overarching test and evaluation authority for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
“We are the focal point for the program executive officers, program managers, chief developmental tester, test managers, and Integrated Test Team members for test program assistance,” said Dereck Higa, Hanscom’s CTA chief.
He said that his office can assist with tasks such as developing an initial test strategy, establishing test teams and developing charters for them, and reviewing plans such as test and evaluation master plans, life cycle sustainment plans and systems engineering plans.
Earlier this year, the Hanscom CTA team met with program representatives from the Survivable Airborne Operations Center Integration Branch, when they were reporting to PEO Digital, and the 96th Cyberspace Test Group Detachment 1 commander to discuss developing test strategies for Middle Tier Acquisition, specifically rapid prototyping, rapid fielding and the requirements for early tester involvement.
More recently, the CTA team reviewed the test team charters for Space Modular Common Cryptographic and SAOC programs and provided comments back to program office test management representatives. They also reviewed draft Department of Defense Acquisition and Air Force Instructions related to Test and Evaluation and provided comments back to the AFLCMC Headquarters CTA office for adjudication.
Higa noted that though his office is located at Hanscom, it can support programs that are part of the Digital and C3I&N portfolios, even if they are geographically separated. No matter where an office is located, he recommends program personnel reach out as early as possible for acquisition test management assistance and guidance.
An important item Higa said his organization can help with is T&E workforce management. This spans across recruitment, hiring, training and developing personnel for those positions within the Digital and Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks directorates.
In addition, the CTA supports the bi-monthly Acquisition-Operating Location Program Management Resource Board, which identifies all test-coded positions and the training status of test personnel. Their personnel have also provided training courses during AFLCMC Focus Weeks and “Lunch and Learn” events.
“Over the past year, we have been able to fill several vacant test management positions, including three chief developmental tester, CDT, positions that were identified by the AFLCMC Inspector General report of 2018 as being non-compliant with current DOD acquisition policy and Air Force Instructions,” Higa said.
Per law and Air Force Instruction, there must be a CDT who supports each major defense acquisition program or major automated information system. Personnel in these positions direct, manage and approve test planning decisions. These are considered key leadership positions and personnel hired for them must meet very specific requirements.
The program management organizational senior functional for Digital highlighted the success they have had working with the CTA.
“Hanscom CTA has played a critical role in helping HB establish essential organic test expertise in every division, whether through a CDT or test manager,” said Dave Temple. “The partnership continues to pay dividends as we now look to expand that expertise to establish and fill lower-level test assets to provide experience and a base for future CDTs and TMs in terms of succession planning.”
Another area where the organization can help Hanscom program personnel is connecting them with external partners, such as the Air Force Test Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and other government agencies.
More information about the CTA is located at their community SharePoint site here. The other AFLCMC CTA locations are at Robins AFB, Georgia; Eglin AFB, Florida; Tinker AFB, Oklahoma; Hill AFB, Utah; and their headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.