Effective Acquisition Strategies for Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA)
MARYLAND UNIV COLLEGE PARK CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND PRIVATE ENTERPRISE
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This report addresses the policy changes that are necessary if the Department of Defense DoD is to reconcile its growing need for systems engineering and technical assistance SETA with the realities of todays defense industry. The DoD relies heavily upon SETA contractors to facilitate the acquisition of complex systems. SETA contractors are civilian experts who provide analysis and engineering services to the government and often work hand in hand with government engineering staff. This arrangement provides numerous benefits to the DoD. For instance, SETA contractors are able to provide the flexibility and quick availability of expertise to DoD programs without the commitment or expense of sustaining a large, long-term government staff. However, as reliance on contractors has increased, so has vertical and horizontal consolidation within the defense industry, which has led to the significant reduction in the number of independent firms capable of providing the DoD with objective SETA services. Beginning in 2009, the Obama administration began an initiative to insource i.e., convert to civil service positions some functions that had been provided through SETA contracting with private firms. The objective was to reduce reliance on contractors and, some believed, improve cost efficiency. But thus far, insourcing has not produced the anticipated results. Given the realities of our militarys internal capabilities and todays defense industry, how should the DoD acquire objective, quality systems engineering and technical advice In light of these challenges, we examine possible strategies for acquiring SETA services. These include the following 1 augmenting the DoDs organic capability, 2 incentivizing the development of independent SETA firms, and 3 transitioning the provision of SETA functions to federally funded research and development centers FFRDCs. In this report, we provide the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.
- Administration and Management
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies