DOD reforming acquisition system

In a bold move to fix the military’s acquisition system, the Defense Department released a report Dec. 14 that offers eight recommendations that would make the system simpler and faster.

The recommendations, called performance improvements, cover every aspect of the military’s acquisition system, including organization, workforce, budget, requirements, acquisition and industry. The new Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment (DAPA) Project, which issued the report, thinks the changes can speed delivery of weapon systems to the battlefield and preserve the U.S. industrial base. The project is a group of nine military, industry and education officials who studied the problem.

“There are fundamental disconnects in DOD management systems and congressional oversight, driven by competing values and objectives that create government-induced instability in our acquisition programs,” DAPA Project members wrote in the executive summary of the 35-page report labeled for official use only.

The most significant recommendation involves creating Service Systems Commands in the Army, Navy and the Air Force. A four-star general or flag officer would lead the new organizations and report to the services’ acquisition secretaries and top officers. The commanders of Service System Commands would oversee acquisition workforce training, education and experience. The DAPA Project believes the new organization will help enhance how the services’ top officers manage workforce training, education and experience.

Another important recommendation is a distinct modernization account budgeted and managed by the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, DOD’s top acquisition official. The account would cover all military programs that complete the system development and demonstration acquisition phase to ensure they stay on budget and operate as expected.

Gordon England, DOD’s acting deputy secretary, initiated the DAPA Project this summer to create an acquisition system with clear responsibility, authority and accountability. He has also taken steps to improve DOD business processes and systems, and he established the Defense Business Transformation Agency this fall.

“We have a deputy Defense secretary who is paying a lot of attention to the problems. We have not had that lately,” said John Douglass, president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Industries Association. He spoke Dec. 14 at the association’s annual holiday luncheon in which he updates industry officials and the media on the state of the aerospace industry.

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