Finding P-1: DOD processes dealing with the
acquisition of C4I systems have not been adequately restructured to account
for the rapid pace of development in the commercial information technologies
on which such systems will inevitably build.
The current acquisition
system is particularly ill-suited to C4I systems. First, program management
and oversight processes are heavily weighted toward metrics associated with
historical acquisition methods associated with weapons systems in which the
underlying technologies change much more slowly. Second, DOD no longer enjoys
the leverage it once had in developing and applying information technology.
Thus, C4I systems--unlike most weapons systems--increasingly rely on
commercial technologies. Third, the current acquisition process assumes that a
service can identify a specific system or program to address specific and
articulated military needs. Such an assumption may be reasonable for weapons
systems, but it is inadequate for C4I systems for two reasons. One reason is
that C4I systems, and especially infrastructure such as networks, are often
more valuable in enhancing the capability of several weapons systems than in
meeting specific needs. A second reason is that C4I users more often come to
understand their requirements by experimenting with prototypes than by deep
intellectual analysis conducted on paper. Finally, acquisition personnel have
not been well trained to manage C4I acquisitions or socialized into an
information technology culture.