How Can We Fix the Defense Acquisition Process?
The Honorable Jacques S. Gansler, former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, opened the afternoon panel by identifying what he perceives as the problems facing the military's acquisition community. The top two identifiable problems, he said, were that IT systems cost too much and the acquisition process takes too long. A third issue is that the U.S. military is not what he considers "world class" in terms of logistics support. He complimented current military leadership for admitting that the services are buying last-century systems when it should be looking at systems 21st century missions.
Gansler also said that he believes the military will be facing a fiscal crisis during the next few years. "I would project a slight decline in the top number next year. How are we going to be able to solve that problem as the budgets shrink, as the supplementals disappear? That's the dilemma that I see happening," he said.
"Where do we start to fix this system?" Gansler asked. First, the military must think in terms of systems for requirements-joint and multinational. "We are not organized to do that. We are platform-oriented still, and it's still a service-oriented platform." The military must not only request but demand and implement spiral development, he added, saying that many in the commercial sector do not want to do business with the military because of all of its requirements.
Many panelists agreed that information technology itself may offer the solution to the acquisition problems the military faces. It can be used to introduce efficiencies into the process as well as document best practices from industry that can help the military address its key issues.
Listen to the panel session here (mp3 link):