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Defense Acquisitions Should Focus On Meeting Schedules, Rather Than On Containing Costs

By | October 20, 2008

      The Department of Defense should shift its procurement programs from a heavy emphasis on containing costs, and stress instead maintaining schedules, a new report states.

      Costs have risen, and schedules have slipped, on many acquisition programs as the defense industry has seen consolidation into monopolies and oligarchies over the past two decades, and as threats facing the nation and new weapons systems have become more complex, according to the report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defense-oriented Washington think tank.

      By focusing on new weapons systems that could be acquired swiftly, without inordinate development time and delays that come with requirements being added to the platform, the DOD would enjoy more competition for its contracts and would see fewer delays in producing new systems, the report argues.

      More and perhaps smaller contracts would keep industry design teams busy, and would mean a given defense contractor wouldn’t suffer as much from losing a bid for a contract if there were many other contracts in the offing.

      Moving to "time-based acquisitions would incentivize more companies to remain in the defense industry, and possibly attract others to enter the defense market, by offering more new business opportunities more frequently than in the past," according to the report.

      To be sure, the report finds that the U.S. defense industrial base isn’t imperiled or weak.

      "The [U.S.] defense industrial base is not on the brink of imminent crisis or near collapse," the report found. "The industry remains fairly innovative, relatively strong, and is capable of supplying American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen with world-class weapons and systems, even if they tend to reach the fielded forces later than expected and at increasingly higher costs than initially anticipated."

      To read in entirety the 108-page report titled "The US Defense Industrial Base: Past, Present and Future" by CSBA Senior Fellow Barry Watts, please go to on the Web.

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