We must ensure that we adapt the acquisition system to deliver the systems we need, rather than simply optimize it to deliver the wrong systems more quickly or more cheaply.
It’s bipartisan Washington gospel that America’s private sector will deliver the innovation the country needs. However, at the front-end of an era of rapid, disruptive technological change in which global competition is heating up, such expectation is increasingly a bad idea without a far more strategic, centralized, and White House-driven approach to the challenges ahead.
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 Defense Department has historically provided investment to help develop systems for its specialized needs. However the investment creates limitations in the defense market and as a result, it impacts innovation. This analysis outlines the challenges and provides recommendations to promote innovation in the defense market.