Michael Niggel on ACT I’s Role in the F-35 Program and His Foreign Military Sales Outlook

niggel_mike_smallMichael Niggel and his partners started Advanced Concepts and Technologies International — or ACT I — in 1998 with an initial division dedicated to foreign military sales.

The Arlington, Virginia-based government services contractor now has five divisions that provide acquisition and program management support services to U.S and international defense agencies for programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and others.

Niggel, ACT I’s CEO, recently spoke to ExecutiveBiz for this in-depth conversation on the company’s origins, its focus areas for the worldwide F-35 program and his vision for the next five years.

ExecutiveBiz: What trends and opportunities led to the company’s founding?

Michael Niggel: Working in a large systems engineering and integration company in the 1990s, we predicted the conflict of interest issues that would later impact the large systems engineering firms. The OCI issue, coupled with our desire to provide high-level trusted advice to the DoD, federal agencies and U.S. allies led us to form ACT I in 1998.

Years later our predictions were realized when the DoD community saw the multitude of divestitures of many systems engineering firms like Northrop Grumman with TASC, the SAIC-Leidos split and Engility’s spin from L-3. We made a good choice to stay focused on what we do best, which is provide unbiased, analytically-based acquisition management recommendations to the U.S. government and international allies.

ExecutiveBiz: What work under the OASIS and Seaport-e vehicles is ACT I targeting?

Michael Niggel: On Seaport-e, we recently won a five-year, $40 million dollar award to provide the F-35 program cost analysis, earn value management, integrated scheduling, financial management, and foreign military sales case support.

We are targeting other major defense acquisitions support contracts through Seaport-e at NAVAIR, SPAWAR and the Navy International Program Office.

On our OASIS Small Business pool one contract, we are targeting DoD; DHS, and other federal agencies to provide program and acquisition management as well as technical skills like cost and schedule analysis, engineering and logistics support, contracts and financial management support as well as cyber support.

ACT I also recently won its first OASIS task order to support the Air Force with crypto/and cyber support in San Antonio, Texas.

ExecutiveBiz: Where does ACT I focus the majority of its services to the F-35 office?

Michael Niggel: ACT I has been supporting the F-35 Joint Program Office continuously since 1999. Over these 16 years we have supported many of the integrated product teams across the U.S. services, our international partners and foreign military sales.

We support the affordability integrated product team with cost estimating, cost modeling, integrated master scheduling, and EVMS support. We helped the U.S. government re-certify Lockheed’s earn value management system.

In the production and manufacturing integrated product team, we support two countries in standing up Air System final assembly and check-out capabilities in Cameri, Italy and in Nagoya Japan, as well as Propulsion System FACO in Tokyo, Japan.

We also support other IPTs in areas such as business and financial management, FMS case management, the international directorate as well as air worthiness, logistics and sustainment and propulsion IPTs.

ExecutiveBiz: How do you see the foreign military sales program area evolving?

Michael Niggel: The number of F-35 FMS cases is expected to grow in the next few years as the US and our international partners deploy hundreds of aircraft. Our allies will be able to see the capability and the operational functionality of the F-35 as we hit higher production rates here, and we provide affordable sustainment.

More NATO and ASEAN countries will be able to assess the utility of F-35 for their countries as well as the strategic alliance that the U.S. government and our partners have built. This will help them decide that the F-35 is exactly what they need.

Normally it takes time to familiarize our allies on the F-35’s capabilities as compared to legacy aircraft, so they usually start with an FMS study case with the JPO where they get some data on the air system, propulsion system, and our performance-based logistics strategy.

Then they usually ask for a little help to put their requirements into an actionable letter of request which is followed by pricing and availability from the U.S. government. Finally, that work is turned into a letter of offer and acceptance which actually will kick off the FMS case.

ExecutiveBiz: Where do you want to see ACT I go over the next five years?

Michael Niggel: We actually just had a planning meeting where our senior staff got together to lay out our plan and how we see ACT I responding to our customers’ call for technical support and advice in the future.

We will continue to provide acquisition and program management support in core competencies like cost analysis, integrated scheduling, business/financial management, engineering and logistics on large complex programs within the DoD and are looking to bring our expertise to DHS, NASA, the space community and other federal agencies.

We are being asked by many of our U.S. allies to help them develop and execute future FMS cases across many platforms within all the U.S. services.

Finally, we are responding to the U.S.-based community’s demand for systems in both space and cyber support. We see ACT I continuing to provide trusted advice and acquisition management capabilities to the U.S. government, our international partners and FMS allies across the DoD, DHS, space, cybersecurity, NASA and intell communities.

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