According to a new study from the Government Business Council (GBC) and Booz Allen Hamilton, 43 percent of the senior federal and military defense leaders surveyed identified the disconnect between government and industry expectations as a significant problem in the current defense acquisition process, while 60 percent identify the same challenge in the C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) acquisition process.
The respondents also expressed the desire for more integration between government and industry as a way to ease the challenges within the process.
The report surveyed 340 leaders in the federal and military communities and found that greater government involvement in designing requirements (i.e., as the primary integrator) could greatly improve the defense acquisition process.
For C4ISR acquisition specifically, 85 percent of respondents identify positive outcomes from more government involvement. The most commonly expected outcomes include products or services that better meet warfighter needs (55 percent) and greater interoperability with existing systems (51 percent).
“Defense acquisition has long been recognized as inefficient and often ineffective, but shrinking budgets and a changing threat landscape have made the need for reform even more urgent,” said Zoe Grotophorst, manager of research and strategic insights at GBC. “This study reveals the underlying problems with defense acquisition and paves the way for future reform efforts.”
Additional findings from the report include:
- The most concerning of the identified C4ISR acquisition problems to defense leaders is managing the large number of stakeholders;
- Large majorities of respondents indicate that the volatile budget, insufficient information sharing and a cultural resistance to change present challenges to greater government involvement in C4ISR acquisition
“There are many stakeholders with a role in the defense acquisition process, and every one of those stakeholders can have a major impact,” said Trey Obering, senior vice president and expert in acquisition and program management at Booz Allen. “Early and often communication involving all stakeholders in the process will break down barriers and open up necessary communication channels.”
Greg Wenzel, senior vice president at Booz Allen also offers his perspective on how increased collaboration and communication can benefit the engineering process.
“During periods of conflict, government and industry engineers are heads down, building the solutions that will save lives,” said Wenzel. “In a post-war era with limited budgets, there is time to pause and think about collaborating and communicating. We need to focus on pushing that objective. If the government has a bigger role in the design and owns the intellectual property they will have the control to integrate quickly and efficiently.”
The GBC report, “Bridging the Disconnect: The Government-as-Integrator Approach to Streamlining the DoD Acquisition Process,” assesses the perceptions, attitudes, and experience of senior defense leaders regarding the current state of defense acquisition and potential structural reform.
The study is based on survey data collected from 340 senior DoD officials from the GS/GM grade levels 11 through 15, the Senior Executive Service, and high military ranks, and is supported by secondary research.