22 February 2010

Defaults & Standards

I recently overheard a comment about how to improve the military acquisition business, and I hope I misheard it. What I think this particular person said was "We need to be able to do rapid acquisitions if we have to..."

The implication was that the ability to develop systems quickly was a necessary evil. Sure, if you really MUST deliver a system quickly, I guess we'll need to have that capacity, but really, we'd much prefer to take our time.

That just seems upside down to me.

Shouldn't the fast, inexpensive approach be the default? And sometimes, if we really have to take a long time & spend a lot of money, we should have the capacity for doing so. But shouldn't that be the exception rather than the rule?

3 comments:

Gabe said...

I wanted to add that much of the DoD instruction on the 5000 series process (the official process the DoD uses to acquire stuff) is that all acquisitions, rapid or not, should eventually be folded back into this official process.

On several occasions I've encountered class room examples where the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle development (FIST to the extreme), is held up as an exception to the rule. The official instruction to students was that the MRAP development would eventually be incorporated back into the mainstream process because that is official policy: all development must enter the 5000 process at some point. Otherwise, the program will suffer severe limitations such as configuration inconsistencies, supportability issues and service interoperability problems which the 5000 process supposedly mitigates.

So, you hit the nail on the head. The "official" DoD policy is that rapid development is a necessary evil. Therefore, "officially" the DoD does not value fast system acquisitions. The war fighter may, but not the corporate enterprise.

Glen B. Alleman said...

Dan,
What about SecDef's statement about the 60% solution in hand being better than a 100% much later?

The Dan Ward said...

@Gabe - it continues to amaze me that people try to insist on stuff like that. I can't understand why people view speed as an undesirable attribute, but that seems to be the case...

@Glen - the SECDEF's comments notwithstanding, of course. Actually, that makes it even more mystifying. It's as if we want to get 60% solutions delivered quickly, but only if they're 100% solutions... and not too quick...

It makes me want to say words like Garg! and Nertz! Pardon my french...