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Measuring the Statutory and Regulatory Constraints on DoD Acquisition: Research Design for an Empirical Study

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Technical rept.

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Over the past two decades, multiple studies have attempted to estimate the cost to major weapon system programs of complying with acquisition-related statutes and regulations. Most studies investigated the cost of compliance only at the contractor level, though program offices, the Services, and OSD would also incur such costs. A majority of these studies defined compliance cost as the additional cost of doing business with DoD. Despite substantial research in this area, few studies based their findings on actual, measured costs. Instead, most based their results on anecdote rather than the systematic collection of empirical data. Compliance with statutes and regulations is imbedded in the working culture of the DoD organization. Personnel are taught to comply during their acquisition training, and they do not know another way of doing business. A two-star Program Executive Officer described the acquisition system as a sandbox that he knows and understands, and opined that it was not in his interest to spend what little time he had to manage his programs fighting to lower the height of the walls of that sandbox, even if that would make his and his staffs jobs easier. The high degree to which compliance is institutionalized in a culture and in a set of processes creates an inherent difficulty in quantifying the cost of that compliance. This research focuses on costs at the government program office level, primarily because it is program managers and their staff who complain that compliance with some statutes or regulations is burdensome, and that burden translates into adverse outcomes in terms of cost, schedule, and performance. One way of capturing actual costs at the government program office level is to track the actual labor hours spent by program office staff complying with a certain statute or regulation. Linking these compliance activities to program deliverables that are in the critical path shows their effect on cost and schedule outcomes.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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