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The time required to divine and develop a new weapon system is an important element of the overall acquisition process. This study identifies the major factors controlling the pace of typical weapon acquisition programs and suggests reforms that may yield overall benefits through reduction of typical development time. Results of the analysis show that, although there are large variations in the duration of programs in each decade, the time to design and develop programs has apparently lengthened. There is no single, narrowly focused policy option that would reduce the length of the acquisition cycle. Rather, coordination of several different initiatives involving the cooperation of Department of Defense agencies and Congress is necessary. The authors found no strong association among the length of the plan, the factors affecting the plan, and the actual schedule outcome, suggesting that programs with fairly short plans can, in some circumstances, have successful schedule outcomes.

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