CAUSES OF ACQUISITION RISK ARE
TECHNICAL, NOT MANAGERIAL
Some communities have suggested that the problem is mainly one of delivering weapon systems that are too complex, and that reducing complexity would increase readiness. However, a recent Defense Science Board (DSB) summer study deliberated the issue of complexity versus readiness and concluded that although there is a relationship, it is relatively small and threat-driven. It was suggested that the probable cause is inadequate engineering and manufacturing disciplines combined with improperly" defined and implemented logistics programs. This industrial process of weapon system acquisition demands a better understanding and implementation of basic engineering and manufacturing disciplines. Once rigorous, disciplined engineering practices are employed and institutionalized, both the risk of deploying unsuitable weapon systems and the time in the acquisition cycle associated with design, test, and production will be reduced.
Current DoD systems acquisition policies do not account for the fact that systems acquisition is concerned basically and primarily with an industrial process. Its structure, organization, and operation bear no similarity whatsoever to the systems acquisition process as it is described conventionally. It is a technical process focused on the design, test, and production of a product. It will either fail or falter if these processes are not performed in a disciplined manner, because the design, test, and production processes are a continuum of interrelated and interdependent disciplines. A failure to perform well in one area will result in ‘failure to do well in all areas. When this happens-as it does all too often-a high risk program results whose equipment is deployed later and at far greater cost than planned.
The answers to these problems won’t be found in another
revision of DoD Directive 5000.1 (reference
(a)) or DoD Instruction 5000.2 (reference
(b)). Nor will they be found in adjustments to the DSARC or other administrative procedures. They won’t be found in these areas, because the problems are technical, not managerial.