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Getting Defense Acquisition Right

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Technical Report

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Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Washington United States

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For most of my adult life, a span of over 45 years, I have worked on some aspect of the operation, development, production, and support of American weapon systems. The so-called defense acquisition system has produced a long series of diverse advanced technology-based products that are widely recognized as the best in the world. At the same time, however, this acquisition system has come under constant criticism and numerous attempts at acquisition reform. Some of the criticism is well-founded, and some of the acquisition reform efforts have produced positive results. Others have had the opposite effect. In my role as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics USDAT and L for several years, I have worked hard to pass on to the rest of the acquisition workforce of the Defense Department DoD, and to all the stakeholders in defense acquisition, some of the hard-won lessons of my decades of experience in the development of new defense products.This volume assembles some of the results of that effort, organized by logical topics and preceded by a summary of the specific items discussed. This volume begins with acquisition policy and then discusses the most important ingredient for successful programs people-more specifically, the acquisition professionals who work in government and industry. Following these sections, some specific aspects of managing technical complexity in large programs are addressed. Because almost all of our weapons systems are designed and produced by private industry under government contracts, the next section deals with the relationship between government and industry, and how that should be managed for mutual benefit-while supporting our warfighters and protecting the American taxpayers investments in defense systems. Next, the subject of outside influences on defense acquisition is covered, including the impact of budget pressures, legislative initiatives, and customer desires.

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