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Buying Commercial: Gaining the Cost/Schedule Benefits for Defense Systems

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The challenge to the task force was to examine the effective and efficient integration of commercial systems into the DOD. Specifically cited were the certification and qualification of commercial technologies to meet military requirements. These are only one aspect of the challenge, however. The task force identified many others, including acquisition practices, experience, education, communication, organization, and leadership. Purchasing commercial or other government off-the-shelf COTSGOTS and commercial- or foreign-derivative systems presents a significant opportunity to the DOD. The challenge is to reap the advantages-including predictable and lower costs and short realization schedules, as well as low risk and demonstrated performance-without the missed benefits that previous attempts have experienced. While a military system designed from the bottom up can deliver a total solution to an identified requirement, the goal of using COTSGOTS and commercial- or foreign-derivative systems is to get the 80 percent solution fielded rapidly and at a much lower cost and risk. The task force looked for best practices to address the challenge by studying three commercial-derivative programs that have experienced significant cost growth and schedule delays the Littoral Combat Ship the Presidential Helicopter Replacement the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter For balance, the task force also looked at three similar programs with lower profiles and greater success the Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion the P8-A Poseidon Aircraft the FSF-1 Sea Fighter Interviews with a variety of experts, as well as background research complemented this analysis.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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