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What Changes Should be made to the DoD Acquisition Process?

The current acquisition process for the Department of Defense (DoD) has a long history. First introduced by the United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in 1949, the goal is to link operational requirements to financial obligations. It involves a planning and budgeting process identifying priorities and forecasting costs over a fiscal year as well as long-term. The Department of Defense typically divides this process into plans, programs, and budgets that culminate in the annual Fiscal Year Defense Plan (FYDP), that provides input into the President’s Budget. However, this process has its challenges that bog down the systems with expensive and lengthy delays.

At Giesler, we have a team of Highly Qualified Information Professionals with over 100+ years of Navy experience, and numerous years on the other side as defense contractors. They identified three main problems in the DoD Acquisition Process that need to change: backing of changes to the system that are working through Congress, having Contracting Officers more open and available to Industry Engagement, and changes to allocations of funds with support for acquisition of new technologies.

First, the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) started in the late 50' to early 60's just isn't working almost 70 years later. Currently under the PPBS, Defense officials must wait at least two years to receive funding to even start working on a solution to a problem they’ve identified. To help figure out a better solution, the 2022 Defense authorization bill was recently signed, setting up a commission to study the current process and come up with alternatives and for the DoD to create a plan to consolidate all the IT systems it uses to plan and execute its budget. This commission will consist of 14 people chosen by the Defense Secretary and top congressional leaders. They need backing and acceleration to deliver a comprehensive report by September 2023 to jump start changes to the process.

Next, Contracting Officers need to be more open and amenable to Industry Engagement. Contracting Officers are a vital link between the DoD and the Defense Industry. They communicate the needs of the various branches of the Defense Department, are well versed in the projects and programs they represent, answer pressing questions from the industry leaders, and help make connections to solve the many problems we need solving. By being more open and communicative to those in the defense industry, they help facilitate clear lines of communication, strong foundations and expectations, keeping the process as smooth and streamlined as possible.

Lastly, we need to change how we can use different allocations of funding: OMN, OPN, RDT&E all have their own unique timelines and processes, and every item funded becomes a Program of Record (POR) that becomes a line item in the Defense budget. This limits the acquisition of new technology in the current fiscal year and when solutions are first identified. By having a more uniform and flexible system, the DoD can get the funding they need for the technologies they need, when they need them.

To learn more about our expertise in the acquisition process or future teaming opportunities, check our website at or talk with us at AFCEA West, coming up February 16-18, 2022, in San Diego.

Image Source: Integrated Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Life Cycle Management System, version 5.4, 15 June 2010. Created by the Defense Acquisition University. Available here.



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