Breaking the Camels Back: If Only DoD Operated as a Business
Defense Acquisition University Fort Belvoir United States
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Most recently, a Defense Science Board report noted almost wistfully that DoD should adopt commonplace tenets of good management practice that abound in the commercial sector Defense Science Board 2008 report, Defense Imperatives for the New Administration. While no one we know has the chutzpah to defendmany of DoDs more notorious business blunders, comparing DoD with commercial business is a faulty analogy. While making DoD work more like a business makes for a good soundbite, it grossly oversimplifies the situation and can inadvertently drive discussion away from realistic solutions. To apply a quote from H.L. Mencken There is always a well known solution to every human problemneat, plausible, and wrong. Do We Really Want to Be Like Business DODs sic business practices need not be worse than the commercial sectors norm, according to the Defense Science Boards 2008 report. First of all, to disabuse oneself ofthe belief that commercial business practices are the simple answer to DoDs problems, one need only be reminded of recent corporate debacles involving Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco. Freddie Mac and Fannie Maeparagons of quasigovernmental, market-driven corporationswere at the crux of the 2008 home mortgage financial collapse. Arguably among the historically most successful businesses, the Big Three U.S. automakers are, as of this writing, marching hats-in-hand to Congress on the brink of failure because of poor economic conditions and bad business decisions.