The Road to Acquisition Reform 'Nirvana'.

Author:Magnuson, Stew
Position:Editor's Notes
 
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* Ninety-nine years of magazines sit in a bookcase located in the association's office. What began as Army Ordnance in July 1920 would eventually morph into National Defense.

It's interesting to flip through the back issues, especially those published prior to 1970, which we will be doing more of as we prepare for the big centennial issue coming out in November.

There is one constant theme in back issue pages: no one has ever been happy with the Defense Department's acquisition system. Complaints from association members found in the 1930s and 1940s sound similar to ones heard today: the services aren't clear on their requirements; the system moves too slowly; payments come too late, and so on, and so on. The litany is well known.

The takeaway from this is that the road to "acquisition nirvana," where everyone is happy with the system, will probably never be reached. But that won't stop the defense community from trying with blue-ribbon panels, National Defense Authorization Acts and think tank reports--nor should it. Acquisition reform is a never-ending story.

With that in mind, the Government Accountability Office in June produced three separate reports related to defense acquisition. Add them to the Section 809 Panel's final recommendations on acquisition reform and there is a lot to chew on.

The first report out of the gate: "DoD Acquisition Reform: Leadership Attention Needed to Effectively Implement Changes to Acquisition Oversight" mostly examines the recent initiative to move oversight of major defense acquisition programs from the office of the secretary of defense back to the services. GAO's conclusion: It's going fairly well. Of course, keep in mind that once upon a time, someone thought that the answer to the department's woes was to move oversight of major acquisition programs from the services to the OSD. It will be interesting to see if the pendulum someday swings back in that direction.

The report also looked at the breakup of the OSD's office of the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. One wonders if a decade or two from now, a reform-minded blue-ribbon panel or lawmaker will declare: "We need to combine the OSD's office of the undersecretary for research and engineering with the office of the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment so one person can have oversight of programs from beginning to end. That will fix things."

This report's other big reveal: The 2016 NDAA gave more freedom and cut...

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