Transportability in the Defense Department Research, Development, and Acquisition Process

by Benjamin Zycher, David Morton


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This study considers the formal role that transportability plays in the Department of Defense (DoD) research, development, and acquisition (RDA) process. Tradeoffs must be made between combat effectiveness and transportability. However, the DoD research, development, and acquisition process is not constrained in important ways to make design decisions reflecting the preferences of the ultimate users of the equipment, partly because there is no profit motive, and partly because the users are hard to identify. For this reason, examination of tradeoffs tends to be replaced by imposition of a series of constraints, defined in terms of the physical characteristics of the existing or prospective transport system or assets. In the RDA process, transportability is treated as a constraint rather than as a parameter to be optimized, resulting in design decisions that, from the user's viewpoint, are likely to miss the optimal combination of effectiveness and transportability. The authors recommend asking the tradeoff question from the user perspective, and making analyses of the relevant tradeoffs more explicit. They recommend further that extra transport or lift costs associated with a system in the RDA process be charged against procurement budgets for that system. They also suggest that financial incentives be used for creation and comparative evaluation of alternative parameter packages by contractors, the Military Traffic Management Command, and the theater commanders.

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