The DoD needs a structured, regulated, and robust acquisition system in order to manage acquisition programs and ensure they stay within their established cost, schedule, performance parameters. Congress and the Executive Branch set the regulations and provide the oversight of acquisition programs. Regulations are in place to try to prevent mismanagement and fraud that could happen within a program. Also, a lot of big acquisition programs are in the spotlight and the public needs to know that funds are being spent wisely.
The process in which acquisition programs are created is: there needs to be a requirement for that type of system which could be based on national security or the warfighter need, a budget for that system needs to be approved by Congress, and then there needs to be a contractor that could provide or develop the system. To ensure the DoD is getting what they have paid for, the acquisition has to achieve certain milestones before it can be determined that the system is mission capable. The amount of oversight on each program is determined by the cost. The F-35 program, the most costliest weapons system, is an example of how much oversight could go into a program. A lot of the regulatory guidance for these programs is to ensure that the funding is being spent appropriately. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is one of the well-known regulations that all procurements have to adhere to. The procurement process is also where the potential for fraud could most likely happen.
I think the nature of the role that the DoD plays in ensuring the National Security goals are met by using highly complex and technologically advanced weapons systems and equipment, all while appropriating the public’s tax money necessitates the need for a structured, regulated, and robust acquisition system. The Federal government carries the responsibility to responsibly and efficiently expend the public’s funds to appropriately operate the Department of Defense. The Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG) explains “the Defense Acquisition System exists to manage the Nation’s investments in technologies, programs, and product support necessary to achieve the National Security Strategy and support the United States Armed Forces” (“DAG,” 2017). The DAG goes on to explain that the goal is to be able satisfy the user needs by acquiring systems, services, and products that provide improved mission capability and high level of quality at fair prices (“DAG,” 2017).
The complexity of the acquisition programs can only manage acquisitions with a structured, regulated, and robust system. The structure provides for a uniform process and organization to be able to ensure that the Defense Acquisition System can manage acquisitions. Being regulated prevents fraud, waste, and abuse, as well as ensuring that there is a legal framework to guide the process through the different phases in the acquisition life cycle. The system must also be robust in order to handle the extensive range of user needs and types of acquisition programs, and do so successfully. The caveat I’d like to point out is that having a well structured, regulated, and robust acquisition system, it must also be effective and efficient. There are cost and time constraints that will inherently haunt DoD acquisitions.