The Lord’s Right-Hand Man for Software

Jeff Boleng, the chief technology officer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, has been named DOD's Special Assistant for Software Acquisition. In his new role he will focus primarily on the F-35. Carnegie Mellon photo.

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment chief, has brought in Jeff Boleng as her Special Assistant for Software Acquisition. Boleng’s charter will be across all DOD software efforts, but he will “spend 90 percent of his time on F-35,” Lord told defense journalists in her Pentagon office Friday. Although Boleng’s official first day is Monday, he was set to meet with members of Lord’s team, Lockheed Martin, and the F-35 Joint Program Office on Friday.

Boleng comes from Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, where he was acting Chief Technology Officer. He served 21 years in the Air Force as a cyberspace operation officer and software engineer. He was also deputy chief of the computer science department at the Air Force Academy.

He will work across Pentagon acquisition teams “to bring the right talent on board,” Lord said, and will work with Lockheed and the F-35 JPO to assure “getting a critical mass of contemporary software skills.” She suggested he also will assist the Defense Innovation Board study on software acquisition, which will emphasize the F-35, and will put the DIB’s “red teaming” capability to work to “make sure we leverage what we have in the Defense Digital Services, who have been doing a few assessments of the F-35.” In addition, Boleng work with the JPO to “attract, develop, and retain additional software expertise and train our existing workforce.”

Lord said she has met frequently with Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson about F-35 progress, particularly in software development, and said she’s confident the company will use software expertise from elsewhere in its organization to “really increase our capability” for what is known as C2D2, or continuous capability, development, delivery. Lord gave a shorthand definition of that process as “code today, test tonight” to speed progress.

“I am very energized about the leadership focus that I have seen in the last four to eight weeks” from Lockheed, Lord said, “so I have great expectations that that will continue, and that Lockheed Martin will keep pace or out-pace DOD in terms of modernizing F-35 software development.”