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Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTD): Are They Relevant in Today's Acquisition Environment?
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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The Department of Defense DOD implemented the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration ACTD process in 1994 as an alternative to the more traditional, overly bureaucratic acquisition system in place throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Many senior leaders in the Office of the Secretary of Defense OSD and the services heralded the process as an important component of DOD s acquisition reform revolution. Nevertheless, did the system really provide significant results beyond what the acquisition system could provide Before 1996, the ACTD s purpose was to fill a void in the existing acquisition process by transitioning emerging technologies to the warfighter faster and cheaper than acquisition policy and regulation allowed. Now that the new DOD 5000 directives provide significant regulatory relief governing current acquisition programs, is the ACTD process still viable or has it become irrelevant This paper compares the current DOD 5000 acquisition process with the ACTD process and examines three ACTDs, all Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, to determine if the ACTD process produced results that could not be expected in todays reformed acquisition environment. What the research shows is that for major weapon system development efforts, the ACTD program does not offer substantial benefits. In fact, the ACTD process creates problems the traditional acquisition process was designed to prevent.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE