25 March 2011

How To Fix Acquisitions

When it comes to the defense acquisition process, change seems to be the only constant. In fact, we change things often enough that it's pretty difficult to attribute any improved (or degraded) results to a particular change, because by the time the weapon system is delivered, the policies and procesess have changed a five or six times (or more). Hard to get any correlation going with that much flux.

Of course, if we'd just shorten program timelines we'd be able to finish projects before the process changed excessively and thus could measure the impact of our "improvements," but that's a topic for another day.

Here's the thing - all too often the changes are blatantly superficial and have virtually no impact on the actual management or engineering of weapon systems. It's bananas but it's the sort of behavior the system rewards. Anyway, that observation inspired this sketch, originally intended for the 13 Theta series for Defense AT&L magazine. I figured I'd post it here instead.

For those who aren't familiar with the structure of the defense acquisition process, it involves moving through a series of milestones. In 1996, we used Milestones O, I, II and III. In 2000 it changed to Milestones A, B and C. And now here's the gag:

What would I recommend doing instead? Focus on honing decision-making skills and using the FIST approach to rapidly deliver affordable systems.

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