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Examines greater competition in the acquisition of major weapons systems from perspective of Congress. The primary direct benefits of competition are lower prices and greater technological achievement. An additional perceived benefit is that competition insures fairness. Factors against greater competition include interest in interservice commonality, antipathy toward significant near-term expenditures, evolution of defense spending into a tool of social and economic policy, and relationships of Congress to the defense industry and military. The paper concludes Congress would not favor rigid price competition that would close off distributional (nonprice and nonperformance) considerations. A hard-sell of the cost benefits of any advanced competitive acquisition strategy will miss its mark if (1) the strategy clearly reduces congressional flexibility, or (2) it is not supplemented by appeals to considerations other than cost savings.

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