The industrial base review coupled with policy and strategy documents gives DoD and its inter-agency network a great deal of homework for the upcoming year. While it is clear that the Department will be rigorously working toward supporting and reinvigorating industries as well as deeply engaging with its partners and allies, it will have to overcome the challenge of the competing interests associated with these two core strategic goals.
Acquisition Trends 2018: Defense Contract Spending Bounces Back analyzes the current state of affairs in defense contracting at a time when the defense acquisition system sits at an inflection point. Defense contracting has rebounded these past two years, but there are unanswered questions about continued defense budget growth and the long-term effects of the last few years’ acquisition reform efforts.
The NDS issues an urgent call to action to a community—the National Security Innovation Base—that has never been called out so explicitly before. The strategy calls upon the National Security Innovation Base to gear up for a “long-term strategic competition” to maintain DoD’s technological advantage. Significantly, the strategy states that the accelerating pace and increasingly commercial nature of technological advancement will require the National Security Innovation Base to adopt “changes to industry culture, investment sources, and protection.”
The strategy of ‘deal-making’ is a hallmark of the political approach employed by the Trump administration and some in Congress. But a deal-making approach is a simple-minded strategy for public policy that disregards crucial implications and complexities that are inherent in politics, that can have negative implications for national security interests.
Emphasis on accountability, although valuable and necessary, can impede the defense acquisition process rather than alleviate problems. Acquisition reform must look beyond placing blame and create an environment that values collaboration and risk-taking as it seeks to improve the challenges in the acquisition process.
On August 1, DoD submitted a report to Congress outlining its plans to split the responsibilities of the current Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics (AT&L) into two new positions. Rhys McCormick and Andrew Hunter answer the critical questions surrounding the reorganization of the defense acquisition system.