The authors argue that there are limitations to relying on empirical data to guide acquisition policy. This report summarizes the case for a broader evidence base for defense acquisition policymaking and then focuses on one specific tool that the authors suggest might add analytic value: policy gaming. It also describes a prototype game focused on Middle-Tier Acquisition that researchers developed to enrich the available evidence base.
Acquisition and Technology Policy Center
Photo by Matthew Kirk/U.S. Marine Corps
The Acquisition and Technology Policy Center (ATP) helps ensure that U.S. and allied forces have the materiel they need to accomplish their missions in every warfighting domain: space, air, ground, sea, and cyber.
Recent statutory changes to DoD organizational structures, roles, responsibilities, and authorities have introduced new challenges and opportunities that significantly affect acquisition information management and governance. This research identifies and describes specific data challenges associated with the Middle Tier of Acquisition, the Selected Acquisition Report, and the Defense Acquisition Executive Summary process and data.
Research Focus Areas
Joint Force Development
ATP helps defense policymakers prioritize investments in forces, capabilities, and technologies and drive those investments toward operational objectives. For example, ATP has helped identify how to improve airbase resilience to attacks; how to pair autonomous, unmanned aerial vehicles with manned platforms to suppress or destroy enemy air defenses; how to sustain power projection forces in contested environments; and how to integrate artificial intelligence into military operations and weapon systems.
Acquisition and the Industrial Base
To help policymakers improve cost, schedule, and performance outcomes, ATP has assessed the prevalence and consequences of bid protests; developed strategies for sustaining the aircraft, munitions, and shipbuilding industrial bases; assessed options for governing, managing, sharing, and using acquisition data; explored methods for reducing the time to field new capabilities without affecting cost or performance; and made acquisition and industrial policy more evidence-based.
Technology Assessment and Transition
ATP scientists and engineers help force developers understand the broad trade-offs among technologies prior to prototyping, assess the value proposition of technology concepts prior to making large investments, conduct independent assessments of top industry performers, and identify the risks and opportunities for technology transitions.
Most real-world decisions cross the boundaries of these focus areas, since a decision to invest in a weapon system or technology hinges on its value to future military operations, the risks of unproven technologies, and the costs of developing, producing, and sustaining a system throughout its lifecycle. ATP research crosses the boundaries, bringing together technologists, force developers, and acquisition professionals. ATP supports real-world decisions via analyses of alternatives (AoAs), strategic portfolio reviews, and strategy formulations, particularly when a cross- disciplinary perspective is necessary.