Quarrelsome Committees in U.S. Defense Acquisition: The KC-X Case
AIR FORCE ACADEMY COLORADO SPRINGS CO
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With two mature contenders, KC-X source selection should have been concluded quickly and cleanly. Instead, it was a prolonged near-disaster. The original selection of leased KC-767s was made in May 2003. Initial operating capability IOC for the Boeing KC-46 is expected in 2017 14 years later. First, we explain the rationale for the program, and then we provide a short history up to source selection in February of 2011. Second, we consider why this process became so prolonged and embarrassing. In doing that, we focus on models that have useful explanatory power. Among other things, it seems clear the standard paradigm sovereign monopsonist doesn t work well in this case. A more useful paradigm is that the U.S. government is better viewed as a quarrelsome committee. We conclude, for example, that Graham Allison s Model III Governmental Politics is a useful explanatory paradigm. Finally, we consider what the KC-X Affair tells us about the U.S. acquisition process in general. We also consider what this case suggests for the next round of defense acquisition reform. This is a much-abridged version of a longer paper. A more complete version is available from the authors on request.
- Administration and Management
- Government and Political Science
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies