In this episode Strategic Institute discusses the forces pushing back against innovation in business processes for federal R&D.
Other Transactions authorities are flexible contracts that permit the government to experiment with different business approaches and arrangements in effort to improve the delivery of the fruits from federal R&D activities. They are intended to be used by smart interdisciplinary teams, equipped with business acumen, creativity, and critical thinking skills to deliver solutions to challenges and normative problems facing the DoD and more broadly.
When it comes to federal acquisition the government created the game, makes the rules, controls the board, and most of the players. The government exercises complete control. This has resulted by-and-large in a system by and for insiders. It has partitioned itself off. There are “kept” contractors who cannot compete commercially due to all the additional regulatory overhead, and highly innovative commercial companies that are functionally locked out. The divide, think wall, that favors the few while excluding the many, is known as Federal Acquisition Regulations and other federal government specific rules. The “kept contractors” welcome every new rule and regulation, it is at the core of their business model. They’ll just hire more people to deal with the new regulation and charge it to the taxpayer. This eliminates competition and increases timelines – cha-ching! Another feature of the system is that it is so irrational, arcane, and esoteric that legions of high-priced go-betweens and consultants, familiar with the inner workings, are employed to decipher and translate to those outside the system. There are powerful unaccountable interests and forces maintaining the status quo, while there are ostensibly no incentives or support to do anything else. Leadership, education, and experiential learning is needed, but these have been tepid at best.
The question isn’t can we do better in the quest of equipping the warfighter in a reasonable timely manner -or- should we reduce wasted time, money, and talent -or- should the government play well with others -or- is national security more important than special interests? The real question is why must the warfighter and Nation sacrifice so much for those unwilling to take responsibility or be accountable? Lest we forget, “with great power comes great responsibility.”