Monday, March 30, 2015

To Cut Defense Costs, In At Least One Area, Pentagon Should Cut Competition

Last week Representatives Thornberry (R-TX) and Smith (D-WA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, unveiled a bipartisan proposal to reform the defense acquisition process. This proposal acknowledges the fact that there is no “silver bullet” for acquisition reform and instead proposes a number of relatively small changes to the existing system rather than a complete overhaul. One specific change proposed by Thornberry and Smith, however, may seem counterintuitive to many. They propose striking the requirement for DoD to use competitive prototyping in acquisitions. Competitive prototyping is a process by which DoD contracts with two or more companies to build working prototypes of a weapon system before selecting one (or more) for production. Eliminating this requirement will reduce opportunities for competition—which may at first seem counterproductive to cutting costs. But I think they are right.