There have been many attempts to reform the federal
government procurement process over time. However, in the early 1990s it
became clear that the rapidly changing threat environment, reduced resources,
and changes in technology development required permanent changes in the way
DoD acquired Defense systems.
Perhaps the most notable change in Defense systems acquisition was caused
by the collapse of the Soviet Union. This major world event impacted national
objectives, treaties, budgets, and alliances. The specter of strategic
thermonuclear war lessened while the probability of regional conflicts (Desert
Storm) and policing actions (Bosnia) increased. Domestic terrorism,
information warfare, and narcotics control are becoming increasingly
troublesome threats to national security, and the Department is playing an
ever-increasing role in resolving these issues.
As budgets were scaled back, decision makers were forced to prioritize. In
spite of continuing trouble in hot spots around the world, the collapse of the
Soviet Union prompted decreases in the Department's budget and reductions in
personnel. Even though budgets in recent years have been more favorable to the
Department, it is likely that fewer new acquisition programs will be initiated
in the immediate future. In the past, expensive technology-based programs have
been considered a key advantage. Lately, there has been an increased em-phasis
on affordability, mature technology, interoperability of systems, the pursuit
of a stronger industrial base, and a reduced role in the development of new
technologies and innovations.
The Defense industrial base has gone through a metamorphosis. Weaker
competitors have merged with stronger companies, or have dropped out of the
market. The remaining large contractors are positioning themselves with other
major contractors to compete for remaining Defense contracts. For example, in
1982 there were ten major U.S. producers of fixed-wing military aircraft. By
1998, there were only three: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop Grumman. As
a result of this reduced industrial base, the Department is working to bring
about greater civilian/military industrial integration.
Foundation for Acquisition Reform Given the changes in the threat and
downward pressure on the budget, DoD could not continue to conduct business as
usual. Further, the fast pace of technological advances in the commercial
market created a real need for access to this technology before potential
adversaries could buy it. Therefore, the Department fundamentally changed the
way it acquired systems - that is, more efficient and effective ways to
acquire goods and services faster, better, and cheaper. This led to the
following major "events" that provided the foundation for acquisition reform
within the Department:
- National Partnership for Reinventing Government. This White House
initiative was started in the mid-1990s to create a government that "works
better, costs less, and gets results Americans care about." DoD was
designated a "High Impact Agency" for acquisition reform.
- Section 800 Panel Report (1993). This report was the result of Congressional direction to the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) to review all DoD procurement laws "with a view toward streamlining the Defense acquisition process."
It recommended over 400 changes to existing laws and regulations. The report
was intended to not only implement reforms recommended in several previous
studies but also provide a framework for continuous improvements in
- Secretary of Defense Perry's "Acquisition Reform - A Man-date for Change" (February 1994). This paper lists the key reasons why change in acquisition
is imperative and outlines methods to make the most impact through change.
This led to the formal beginning of regulatory reform in DoD.
Long-term emphasis on the need for change was
essential to maintain a preeminent military force structure. Many initiatives
were implemented to institutionalize new attitudes and effect the necessary
changes in cultural behavior. These initiatives were derived from three
sources, major legislation, process action teams and regulatory