Why the DoD Acquisition System is Stuck

posted in: Other Transactions, Podcast | 5
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Join Strategic Institute in discussing why the defense acquisition system for R&D and delivering new capabilities is persistently stuck in first gear and getting passed by on the rapid 21st century highway.

The DoD once had a functional acquisition system capable of expediency and creativity, i.e. the ICBM was delivered in 5 years, NASA using a similar system went the Moon in less than a decade, and the nuclear bomb was produced just six years after splitting the atom (totally new technologies). Today the system requires tremendous resources and legions of industry specialists and insiders who spend years learning the ins-and-outs of a system that defines – arcane. Now it takes nearly a quarter century just to deliver the next-gen of something. This, despite many advances in efficiency enhancing technologies in the intervening years (i.e. computing, communications, simulations etc.). The bureaucracy and special interests have had their way with the defense acquisition system; it just grew to become the albatross it is today.

Hard fought for flexible acquisition authorities allowing the government to explore and operate at a much high caliber have been expanded, codified, and even mandated, but they are being ignored or worse. DoD’s inefficiencies and problems are strictly an inside job, the change many say they wish to see needs to be embodied and emboldened by good leadership.

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5 Responses

  1. Vern Edwards

    Would it be possible to get a transcript of the podcast. I write for The Nash & Cibinic Report and would like to mention it and quote from it.

    Thanks, Vern Edwards

    • admin

      Hi Vern- There is no transcript, but feel to reference or quote. Rick is also available for a direct quote. Thank you.

  2. Donald Mansfield

    Good discussion. However, I disagree with the amount of blame placed on rules–the FAR in particular–for the current state of affairs. Those who know the FAR well know how flexible it actually is. For example, I know of two ACAT II programs that are buying major systems using simplified acquisition procedures. I think the blame for the situation you describe has a lot more to do with people. Specifically, a lack of creative thinking and a miscalculation of the risk of trying something new and different. I also think you left out the pressure from traditional defense contractors to maintain the status quo.

  3. Daniel McAlister

    I think Don Mansfield has a great point; he’s tremendously knowledgeable. A culture of compliance/rule-following/directives makes creativity difficult … with check-six and cya behavior necessary to survive … and mistakes aren’t recognized … so accountability evasive … analysis paralysis. No excuses, though. We can, will, and must do better … experiment, tinker, learn, do, share, collaborate, together …