Acquisition Reform: Issue Revisited
Research rept. Aug 1992-Apr 1993
INDUSTRIAL COLL OF THE ARMED FORCES WASHINGTON DC
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The US acquisition process is an evolution of numerous attempts to centralize, simplify, and stabilize. This evolution began with the National Security Act of 1947, which served to centralize civilian control of the military apparatus, but invariably has run into an impossible mix of special interests and competing objectives, defying effective change. Yet broad indicators of health suggest a system thats improving in terms of cost growth, schedule slip and performance shortfall. This apparent contradiction becomes understandable when the political context is examined. While Congress exercises its constitutionally legitimate role, even if the degree is debatable, their iron control of the pursestrings makes the creation of a centralized acquisition agency unwise. European models of a centralized agency have not proven superior and US industrys experience has compelled them to move away from centralization. The answer to improving our acquisition system lies not in creating more bureaucratic congestion, but in simplifying lines of control. Retain the principle of centralized control within OSD and decentralized execution within the services as directed since 1947, but change its practice to putting trust in those given responsibility and holding them accountable. This simple management principle will work if the political will is likewise forthcoming. OSD must control but let the services manage. Congress must fight the urge to manage every aspect of DOD. They should also follow the simple management principle or the long turbulent history of acquisition reform will continue without real change.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies