The Process and Politics of Defense Acquisition: A Reference Handbook

The Process and Politics of Defense Acquisition: A Reference Handbook

The Process and Politics of Defense Acquisition: A Reference Handbook

The Process and Politics of Defense Acquisition: A Reference Handbook

Synopsis

The United States government invests billions each year on equipping armed forces with the most advanced military equipment. The root of the American defense acquisition system is driven by a combination of national interests and domestic political requirements. While fundamentally the defense acquisition system has produced results for the United States military, improvements are needed in order to continue to move forward in advancing military tactics and technology. Exploring both the systemic and political levels of the system, Sorenson argues that the United States will fall behind if the current defense acquisition system is not reformed. This book brings together elements of this complicated system, such as national security requirements, and the changes that are needed in both the structural and political pillars. A combination of political interests and the needs of the military, serviced by an ever-shrinking defense industry, make a genuine acquisition reform even more difficult, resulting in reform that is more symbolic than genuine.

Excerpt

It is with some trepidation that I write this book, because there are few things that are as likely to confuse and confound readers as the American defense acquisition system, which supplies armaments and equipment for the U.S. armed forces, as well as foreign customers. It is extraordinarily complex, requiring many pages to describe a process that is in reality a small piece of a much larger process, the system that provides national defense for the United States. The acronyms alone can cause a reader to simply quit. A part of the acquisition system that has been in place for decades may suddenly be forced through change, rendering everything written about it to become obsolete. Unfortunately the defense acquisition process has also been marred by poor performance, including cost overruns, schedule delays, failure to meet performance specifications, and sometimes outright fraud committed by some participants in the process. It makes for difficult reading, particularly when it becomes clear that problems continue despite efforts to reform the system. It is particularly painful to read that sometimes the very reforms that were supposed to improve the defense acquisition system have actually made it worse.

Yet there are many reasons to write this book. The U.S. Department of Defense is the most expensive organization in the entire world. There are few organizations that spend more money in a single year than does the Pentagon. Most American citizens read and understand only a small proportion of the system that the Defense Department uses to take ideas and form them into weapons and support systems. They may note that the price of a single B-2 bomber exceeded $1 billion a copy, for example, but they have no understanding of why. Yet it is their money that the government is spending, from their tax dollars, and from lost opportunities to spend federal revenues on something else. So in the name of good citizenship alone, it is highly useful to understand at least something about the defense acquisition system.

Millions of Americans are more than bystanders in the defense acquisition system. They work in it, or they construct or consume its products. The defense industry alone in the United States creates and sustains hundreds of thousands . . .

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