Acquisition Policy Effectiveness

Department of Defense Experience in the 1970s

by Edmund Dews, Giles K. Smith, A. A. Barbour, Elwyn Harris, M. Hesse

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Surveys acquisition of 32 major weapon systems that entered full scale development during the 1970s. Changes occurred in both acquisition practice and program outcomes in response to policy initiatives introduced at the beginning of the decade. The amount of test information available at major decision points (DSARC milestones) increased substantially; the program manager's position was strengthened through better training, longer tenure, and better promotion prospects; and competition has increased, especially in the early phases of development. A typical program experienced cost growth of roughly 20 percent, slipped its schedule by just over 10 percent, and generally met its performance goals. Programs surveyed here equalled or surpassed a similar set of 1960s programs in schedule and performance goals and came closer to cost goals. Several promising ways are recommended for strengthening the present acquisition process and improving the quality of information that managers need to track and control ongoing programs.

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