In defense acquisition, “the times, they are a-changin’.” For decades, Congress and the Pentagon developed an acquisition bureaucracy geared toward eliminating risk at the expense of everything else. Regulations and check-the-box procedures accumulated like barnacles on a ship, suffocating innovation and failing to develop weapons on time or at acceptable cost. Except for a few outliers, the department’s existing major weapons programs have largely stabilized their cost and delivery schedule.
Now, lawmakers and Pentagon officials are focused on transitioning the acquisition system from a peacetime organization centered around risk aversion to a system that operates at “the speed of relevance,” as former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis put it.
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