The technological advantage enjoyed by our military is at risk. Serious challenges over the past decade have put enormous strain on today’s acquisition programs.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported an accelerating increase in cost overruns and delays. In March of 2014, the GAO reported that 80 of the Pentagon’s largest weapons systems were collectively $480 billion over their original cost estimates, while the average weapons program was over two years delayed in delivering initial operating capability.
There is widespread opinion that the traditional acquisition process is often cumbersome and outmoded. Moving individual systems independently through a linear, step-by-step process masks complexity and ignores technical dependencies. Moreover, rapidly emerging threats, restrained budgets and a shortage of skilled acquisition workers put enormous strain on the existing acquisition process.
While program managers recognize the challenges of modern acquisition and logistics, many struggle to manage the complexities and risks, particularly those that fall outside the traditional, linear process.
The solution to these challenges is a multidimensional perspective that recognizes the inherent complexity of modern system acquisition, including multiplying stakeholder interests, an expanding supplier base and complex logistical chains, among other factors.
DOD leaders understand these challenges and have initiated Better Buying Power and other initiatives to address them. But many program officials still struggle to control costs, avoid delays and mitigate risks in acquisition programs.
The problem is that the program officials remain focused on the individual steps in the milestone acquisition process — they have not yet widened their management perspectives to incorporate the entire acquisition and logistics activity chain.
The current acquisition system delivers discipline, fairness and consistency. Adding a multidimensional perspective will enable program managers to widen their management focuses and encompass their full sets of responsibilities, including the capabilities needed to address today’s diverse challenges and risks. By embracing both the linear and the multidimensional natures of acquisition, program managers will succeed in delivering new capacities on schedule, at cost and to stakeholders’ expectations.
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