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Include Testers Early: That is the message Maj. Gen. Stephen Sargeant, head of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, put forth for more than 400 government and industry acquisition professionals gathered in Albuquerque, N.M. last week for the 2009 USAF Test and Evaluation Days Conference. According to a Feb. 17 AFOTEC release, Sargeant said that achieving "acquisition excellence" requires early and continuous communication between testers and system program office personnel and major command requirements developers. "It is clear that integrated developmental and operational testing is the most efficient use of scarce resources and leads to early identification of issues that can be resolved with the least cost and impact on the [weapons program] schedule." He went on to say that such "early influence" already has saved the Air Force millions of dollars and sped up fielding of new warfighting capabilities. He urged "codifying and institutionalizing that approach."