Changes urged for DOD's acquisition

Inefficiencies, outdated policies and a shrinking workforce are leading to problems in the Defense Department's acquisition process, Maj. Michelle  Brunswick, a professor of acquisition management at the Defense Acquisition University, said today.

DOD tends to prepare for previous wars rather than focusing on future threats, Brunswick said during a webcast seminar today on “Future Trends in Defense Acquisition.”

As DOD moves to reform its acquisition processes, officials need to recognize that the defense budget is directly tied to the health of the U.S. economy, she said, adding that when the economy is down, there are fewer defense dollars and programs suffer.

Although it was once a driver for developing new technology, DOD is now more of a buyer of technology from the commercial world, Brunswick said. Although adopting commercial technology has some advantages, the products do raise security concerns because they are often developed with open standards, she added.

One major problem is that DOD approves more new programs than it can realistically fund, she said, adding that the problem is compounded by highly complex and interdependent programs that command larger budgets than past programs required. The key to solving that problem to make better choices on which projects to fund, and to focus on projects that address joint needs, she added.

To limit cost growth, DOD should establish an early program baseline and maintain it throughout the acquisition process, she said.

Ultimately, DOD should make tough decisions about which programs should be pursued and which ones should not, she said. Officials need to make sure programs are executable and need to lock in requirements before programs are started, Brunswick said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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