Is the Traditional DoD Acquisition System for R&D Institutionally Corrupt?

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YES! This podcast episode begins with a snippet of President Eisenhower’s farewell address warning the public about the corrupting influence of the Military Industrial Complex and ends with his warning about squandering future generations’ resources in exchange for present day comforts (ex. $30 trillion in federal debt).

Strategic Institute refers to the “mission statement” of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR 1.1) to illustrate how the acquisition system, at least for R&D, prototyping, and delivering new capability, utterly fails at its original purposes and is thus institutionally corrupt. The Federal Acquisition System, what the 1972 Commission on Government Procurement called “a mass and maze of regulations”, benefits government and industry insiders at the expense of the warfighter, taxpayer, a healthy industrial base, and innovation; decades of expert study and findings confirm this.

Due to the over complexity of the system which is inherently unfair, lacks transparency, and is largely closed off to outsiders, the results are chronically poor performance, ridiculous costs, lack luster solutions, destruction of creativity, and tremendous waste. The arcane mass and maze of rules has given rise to the preeminence of the contracting regime, which subordinates program managers, technical experts, developers, performers, creatives, producers, and doers. In all other industries and business, contracting personnel support mission and goals. Unfortunately, too often in the Federal Government, expertise and accomplishing goals is secondary to fulfilling the diktats of the acquisition system rules. These rules grew in a willy-nilly fashion with the aid of undue influence of special interests. This has corrupted otherwise straight-forward common sense business processes and culture.

DoD and other federal agencies have been given authorities and a Congressional mandate to develop a ‘preference’ for using these to explore and conduct business in new and different ways. Minus a few bright spots, business-as-usual thinking has been applied with the expected results – we are STILL having the exact same conversations today as we were 40 years ago and according to the 809 Panel things have only gotten worse!

Additional Resources

Cartoon:

Article: Appropriate Contractual Instruments for R&D

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