The Department of Defense Acquisition workforce is the primary and relevant community within the case. This background history attempts to contextualize the cultural and environmental conditions of Acquisition Reform related to the specific MIS case under discussion.
Over a three-decade life cycle (1970–2000), the development and procurement of offensive and defensive weapons for the U.S. Department of Defense has undergone massive changes. Under the organization of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, weapons procurement contracts are solicited (through an Request For Proposal—RFP process), evaluated, accepted, granted (won) and managed.
In the late 1980s, a complete reorganization of the process of weapons development and acquisition was implemented, ending in the Acquisition Reform Act of 1990—Defense Acquisition Work Improvement Act (DAWIA) (Gill, 2001). This reform was necessitated by the limited controlled and often overlapping weapons development and procurement processes that emerged after WWII and continued throughout the next five decades. Extensive cost overruns, contractual fraud, cases of the Government being compelled to accept systems that failed to meet specifications, all shaped a Congressional mandate to reform the entire weapons systems development and acquisition process. Additionally, acquisition and contracting practices were constantly challenged with managerial problems and were frequently under pressure from an increasingly vigilant and accountability driven U.S. Congress.
In 1971, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees called for a Department of Defense wide multiyear review of the whole weapons acquisition and procurement program. This review included all systems, processes and contracts within each military service. An outcome of a Congressional study commissioned by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees—Packard Report, 1986—included a structural reorganization and integration of the entire weapons acquisitions and logistics programs (Jefferson Solutions, 2000; Acquisition 2005 Task Force, 2000). Some of the major recommendations included the:
integration of the weapons systems acquisition process including planning, engineering, development, testing and deployment;
joint service management of all weapons development phases under a newly created DoD organizational structure which merged the old logistics specialty with the weapons systems and acquisition specialty; and,
integration of personnel, professional development and management into individual project and program management ventures.
Reorganization took place from 1979 to 1990, as ‘state of the art’ logistics management was unveiled. Under the Reform Act, in 1990, a new weapons systems acquisition and technology development structure and programs were enabled.
From 1984 through 1994, there was a steady but relatively slow migration of personnel functions and mission. The functional migration included the movement from the old disassociated systems to the new integrated system including the creation of a new structure of Program Executive Offices (PEOs) with oversight for a series of related Program Manage-ment Offices (PMOs). A PMO is typically responsible for either an offensive or defensive system that functionally discriminates, e.g. an air-to-air combat defense system, for identification of unfriendly aircraft and data feed-forward into a combat system for target acquisition and weapons deployment. The example PMO might function under a Program Executive Office for air combat systems.
The acquisition reform process began to coordinate weapons systems development among armed services. The integration of weapons systems development eliminated, for the first time, the need for overlapping functions and systems. A current, FY02, outcome of this reform action includes the Joint Strike Force Fighter (JSF) aircraft (Struth, 2000). This aircraft is currently in testing and pre-production and supports the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp aviation communities.
Figure 2 depicts the four-stage acquisition model used by the Department of Defense acquisition organizations, which manage weapons systems development and field deployment.
Figure 2: The DoD 5000 Acquisition Model
While legislative reform was in progress, organizational changes were being implemented and new systems development technologies were being proposed. Research into the use of Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD), the use of Integrated Project Teams (IPTs), new financial and database management systems, and the application of the latest developments in quality assurance and control, all led to the complete overhaul of the weapons systems acquisition process.
The human side of weapons systems development also experienced reform. The creation of a Department of Defense Acquisition University (DAU) established a government graduate college for training and developing weapons systems acquisition professionals. New federal career tracks under the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) were opened permitting acquisition, logistics and technology development to become independently recognized as discriminate civil service and military specialty professional career tracks.
From 1984 through 1994, there was continuous growth in the acceptance of acquisition reform policies and procedures. Organizational and managerial problems and structural dilemmas were solved. Professional training and development became institutionalized. Weapons systems were produced and deployed on time, within budget and with minimal error due to:
the structural reorganization of the Program Management Offices;
the reorganized secretariat within the Department of Defense; and,
acceptance of new techniques in using systems engineering principles and procedures to manage the integrated acquisition process.