Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reform of the Defense Acquisition System

Earlier this week we completed our series on DoD's latest acquisition reform initiatives, collectively referred to as BBP (Better Buying Power) 3.0. Acquisition reform within DoD is a tiresome subject - since the 1960s, that have been at least 27 major studies of defense acquisition by DoD, Congress, the White House, and think tanks, all proposing various reforms. Its no wonder that the those with long-term experience in acquisition hear of the latest bright ideas, just shrug, and go about doing what they've always been doing.

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support of the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on procurement reform. There were three witnesses, one each from the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Here are some excerpts from prepared testimony.

Acquisition reform has proven elusive...Nearly each effort has attempted to define legislative solutions, create new processes and propose additional oversight to challenges that are, in many respects, endemic to defense acquisition. The objectives of reform are all too familiar: tackling cost and schedule growth ..., addressing unrealistic program requirements, streamline a process that is bureaucratic, ponderous and slow, and addressing the need for a skilled and professional acquisition workforce....Prior efforts at reform have mostly resulted in greater oversight, added bureaucracy and the associated prolixity of statutes and regulations, slowing down the process substantially (ARMY).
...history and experience have demonstrated that programs succeed when they adhere to basic principles: (a) get the requirement right; (b) perform to a stable plan; (c) make every dollar count; (d) rely on an experienced acquisition workforce; and (e) foster a healthy industrial base (NAVY).
... laws upon laws will not improve the acquisition process.. While we believe these laws were created with the best intentions, as our processes increase in complexity, many of the statutory requirements continue to grow, resulting in duplicative and often overly cautious requirements whose burdens outweighed their values (AIR FORCE).
Seems like everyone understands the difficulties in trying to reform acquisition in DoD (and the Government in general). While the testimonies offered similar perspectives, none provide a clear path forward to procurement reform.

You can read the full testimonies and watch the actual hearing by clicking here.

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