Friday, November 8, 2013

Seek Improvements, Not Reform

In an article published yesterday on DoD's website, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall was quoted as saying that it is better to focus on acquisition improvement than it is to try and reform the entire system. When people consider "improvements" instead of "reform", it confines their thinking to specific things that they can do that will make a difference. Kendall stated that you can't wave away the entire procurement system, start over, and expect to have something that looks very, very different from what you have today.

People have been talking about acquisition reform for a very long time. Back in 1794 (yes, that's 1794) when the Navy was building six frigates, Congress was alarmed at the cost growth and schedule slips and demanded reform. Ever since, every few years with each succeeding administration, people have wanted to get their arms around the elephant in the room. People within DoD (and probably other Agencies as well) just roll their eyes when the next round of faddish fluff rolls around - nothing significant ever changes.

Kendall believes that there are very simple factors that drive outcomes in acquisition - professionalism on the government and industry sides, as well as leadership and hard work.

Kendall stated that DoD is doing hundreds of things to try and improve its acquisition processes but the article doesn't say too much about what those "things" are. The only example he gave was a statement that "his team" team is working with industry to help reduce overhead which undoubtedly surprised many in the contractor and procurement community who are oblivious to any such activities. He also stated that overhead adds costs but not value, a position disputed by most contractors including Kendall's old bosses at Raytheon.

You can read the entire article here.

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