Executive Briefings

IBM's Watson Supercomputer to Help U.S. Air Force Avoid Procurement Flak

IBM's Watson, the computational genius that has bested "Jeopardy" champions, published a cookbook and even been unleashed in the fight against cancer, now has what is perhaps its greatest challenge: taking on the federal procurement morass.

For years, government agencies have tried to find ways to make the purchasing process more efficient. But now the Air Force has come to the conclusion that humans cannot on their own manage the Federal Acquisition Regulation, 1,897 pages of the densest prose on the planet. The only way to navigate a stifling bureaucracy that virtually everyone agrees is broken is to turn to the power of the machine.

The Air Force is working with two vendors, both of which have chosen Watson, IBM's cognitive learning computer, to develop programs that would harness artificial intelligence to help businesses and government acquisitions officials work through the mind-numbing system.

The idea is to create a "bureaucracy buster, or let's call it a decoder," said Camron Gorguinpour, a senior official in the Air Force's acquisitions office.

The effort comes amid other attempts to reform the way the Pentagon buys weapons and services. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has made those reforms a priority and is once again pushing legislation designed to speed up the procurement process and make it more efficient.

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For years, government agencies have tried to find ways to make the purchasing process more efficient. But now the Air Force has come to the conclusion that humans cannot on their own manage the Federal Acquisition Regulation, 1,897 pages of the densest prose on the planet. The only way to navigate a stifling bureaucracy that virtually everyone agrees is broken is to turn to the power of the machine.

The Air Force is working with two vendors, both of which have chosen Watson, IBM's cognitive learning computer, to develop programs that would harness artificial intelligence to help businesses and government acquisitions officials work through the mind-numbing system.

The idea is to create a "bureaucracy buster, or let's call it a decoder," said Camron Gorguinpour, a senior official in the Air Force's acquisitions office.

The effort comes amid other attempts to reform the way the Pentagon buys weapons and services. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has made those reforms a priority and is once again pushing legislation designed to speed up the procurement process and make it more efficient.

Read Full Article