Bad Idea: Scrapping the Federal Acquisition Regulation
December 21, 2018
Accelerating the pace of defense acquisition is popular right now. Speed became a significant part of the Pentagon’s acquisition tool kit as a necessity during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it has truly taken off as a priority in recent years as a tool for responding to the threats presented by strategic competitors. As Russia and China make progress modernizing their systems, the urgency in the U.S. acquisition system has increased even as deployments have fallen.
The keys to rapid acquisition in the peak war years was flexible funding, provided in substantial quantity by Congress, strong leadership from the Secretary of Defense and his staff, and the ability to quickly leverage and integrate relatively mature technologies. The situation today is different. The flexible funding of years past is largely gone due to reductions in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding and the Budget Control Act. And many of the systems that DoD is now seeking to acquire rapidly are technologically sophisticated, requiring substantial development and integration. Thanks to the emphasis on speed in the National Defense Strategy, one thing that hasn’t changed is the urgency expressed by senior leaders.
This piece was published as part of the Defense360
Andrew Hunter is a senior fellow and director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.