The Army wasted more than $1 billion a year from 1996 to 2004 and more than $3 billion a year from 2004 through 2009 on major programs that eventually were canceled, according to a review of the service’s acquisition process released Thursday.
The 2010 report put the blame for the broken Army acquisition process on “erosion of the core competencies of the personnel responsible for the development of requirements and the acquisition of systems and services.”
The review was conducted by an outside group chaired by Gilbert Decker, who served as assistant secretary of the Army for research, development and acquisition from 1994 to 1997, and retired Army Gen. Louis Wagner, who served as commander from the Army Materiel Command from 1987 to 1989.
The Army said it plans to hire close to 2,000 acquisition workforce personnel by 2015 in response to the recommendations in the Decker-Wager review.
The review also faulted the complex requirements process, which delayed development and fielding of systems due to a process that takes as long as two years to come establish conditions for acquisitions based on commercial products, such as information technology systems.
The Decker-Wagner review was based on interviews with more than 100 former high-ranking Defense Department and Army officials as well as defense industry executives. Army Secretary John M. McHugh said he planned to adopt 63 of the report’s 76 recommendations. .
The review acknowledged that in many cases its recommendations echo hundreds of other high-level reviews and studies of the Defense and Army acquisition process, going back to a 1986 commission chaired by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard Corp., who served as deputy secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1971.
The 2010 review invoked Packard, who, in his 1986 take on acquisition reform, asked, “We all know what needs to be done. The question is why aren’t we doing it?”
At a media briefing Thursday, Thomas Hawley, deputy undersecretary of the Army, provided the 2011 answer to that question, “If it was easy . . . we would have done it a long time ago.”
In 2007, Jacques Gansler, former undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, delivered a report on the service’swartime contracting that found the Army’s civilian and military contracting workforce is stagnant or declining, and he recommended hiring 1,400 additional contracting personnel.
The Decker-Wagner report said the service still faces a shortage of contracting personnel, as well as systems analysts and engineers, and the Army has recommended hiring an additional 1,885 personnel in these fields by 2015. The recommendation [the report or the Army’s recommendation?] cautioned, however, that “it takes well over a decade to mature a systems engineer with domain expertise.”
The Army lacks a database to help it scope the size of the acquisition workforce, the Decker-Wagner review said. “Getting data on such basic questions as how many systems engineers the Army has and what are the trends in quantity and qualifications, proved impossible,” the 2010 review said.
The Army also lacks historical information on lessons learned from its acquisition programs, such as cost and schedules. The Decker-Wagner review recommended the service develop a database that incorporates this historical information along with acquisition workforce data.
Army acquisition officers lack operational experience, so the Decker-Wagner review recommended — and the service endorsed — a plan to assign them to operational field units for tours of about a year so they can gain a better understanding of operational requirements before returning to design and develop future systems.
The Army also endorsed a recommendation in the 2010 review that acquisition officers be assigned to the Army War College and Command and General Staff College.
The Army should emphasize rapid acquisition, compress requirement reviews, eliminate excessive documentation, encourage competitive prototyping, and expand the use of fixed-priced and incentive-fee contracts, the 2010 review recommended, and the Army agreed.
Heidi Shyu, acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said at the press briefing that the service views the 2010 review as a framework for an “achievable, affordable and realistic” approach to acquisition.
— by Bob Brewin – NextGov.com – 07/22/11 at http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20110722_3535.php?oref=rss