Thoughts on Reforming the Military Acquisition Process

by Michael D. Rich, Edmund Dews


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This paper, based on testimony given by Michael Rich to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Defense Industry and Technology, on April 9, 1987, outlines an approach to reforming the defense acquisition process and describes a prescription for reform based on RAND research results. In doing so, it challenges several aspects of conventional wisdom and popular belief and offers a set of recommendations that go beyond those of the Packard Commission. The traditional measures of effectiveness for major system acquisitions are cost growth, schedule slippage, performance shortfalls, and fielding times. These measures, given our current ability to quantify them, do not tell the whole story about the effectiveness of defense acquisition, but they do give important insights. RAND research shows that government and industry management can claim at least modest improvements over time--a conclusion contrary to the usual assertion that defense acquisition has become progressively less effective.

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