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To quickly develop and field novel systems — which involve considerable uncertainty — the acquisition community must accept precisely the risks that traditional acquisition policies and procedures have been designed to avoid. This paper describes the special features of novel systems and then argues that fostering innovative systems requires a strategy that is more streamlined and less tied to achieving precise estimated cost, schedule, and performance outcomes than traditional acquisition processes. The authors outline the major elements of an acquisition strategy that would be more consistent with the special features of novel systems, such as a focus on unique integrations of existing and emerging technologies, a willingness to accept risks, easy and quick termination of programs not yielding expected benefits, and early test and demonstration of military utility.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Th e research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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