16 September 2009

The Realm of the Possible

In a recent discussion about improving defense acquisitions, someone suggesting things would be better if we could get rid of Congress. Everyone laughed at this humerous suggestion, and one particularly literal-minded person said "Oh, that's too big of a change, it can't be done, let's move on..."

Well, hold on.

Maybe there's a way to "eliminate" Congress from the project without disbanding one third of our constitutionally-established government.

See, the problem isn't Congress' existence. The problem is that sometimes Congress provides, as Shrek so delightfully put it, "the opposite of help." So, what if we could minimize this anti-help?

It turns out, we can. The FIST (Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny) approach does exactly that.

A FISTy project has a small budget, which attracts less interest and oversight from our congressional leadership. A short schedule provides fewer chronological opportunitites for, let's call it involvement (instead of meddling). A small team and simple organization doesn't get spread across multiple congressional districts and states, and voila, that means fewer legislators with a dog in the fight.

These decreases are all appropriate and above-board. It's not a matter of shutting Congress out, but rather of keeping the project sufficiently small that it doesn't require their, ahem, help.


Gabe said...

Indeed, one more fantastic benefit of FIST! Congress usually only gets involved with big dollar amounts, as well they should. But if we as government employees spent the peoples money like we would our own, we would probably be much more frugal. Then congress wouldn't need to get involved. FIST is basically how people conduct business in their personal lives. Why shouldn't it apply to their professional?

Mike Burleson said...

Dan, the Congress generally gives the Pentagon what it asks for, especially in wartime. If all they ask are for gold-plated weapons, the politicains go along, at least for a while. I have turned my own blog salvos against the generals and admirals who are totally clueless to the FIST apporach, and perhaps even fearful of it.

The Dan Ward said...

@Mike - I think you're right. I just have to shake my head every time someone in the DoD tries to blame Congress for a) doing what they were elected to do and b) giving us what we ask for.

Of course, every once in a while we do see thing like the SECDEF trying to kill a project and Congress continues to fund it (B-1, V-22, etc), but ultimately I think the responsibility comes back to the military leaders who are pushing for these things in the first place...