There are two lessons to be drawn here.
The first is that it isn't just the DoD that can't bring big programs in on time and under budget. The rough rule of thumb is there are three things: schedule, cost and performance and you can have any two, but not all three.
The second is more important as the US Congress promises to reform government acquisition. You can't legislate morality. I have been hearing that old saw for as long as I can remember. If that is true, why do we think we can make government acquisition fair and pure by adding up laws?
In the article linked to above you can see one of my favorite bloggers cited.
According to University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, who blogs as “Instapundit”, there are more than 50,000 pages of federal laws and 161,117 pages of federal regulations.My younger brother, John Krieger, and an associate, John Pritchard, two years ago, took a golf ball and started adding a Band Aid each time a new law was passed or a new rule added and within a year it was the size of a regulation hardball and now is approaching softball size. There is an article in the National Contract Management Association magazine, but they lock their website down to paying members only. If I find a no-cost access, I will post it.
If we want to reform government acquisition we need to reduce the number of rules, agree that people will make mistakes, find some reasonable sanctions short of firing for mistakes as opposed to fraud and provide more education for the workforce and more authority at lower levels.♥ Then sit back and see if this isn't better. The system doesn't improve by tying the hands of college educated folks trying to do their job. Sure, there will be the odd person who will abuse their position, but the current system isn't preventing that outcome. It is time to try something new, like creating space for creativity and responsibility in the contracts writing and administrating work force.
In the mean time, better information for understanding our environment will be delayed.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Lance, embedded like this, where you see a word or a few words and the link is hidden underneath them.
♥ I remember an incident went I was working Research and Development (R&D) procurement at Eglin AFB. I made a bone-headed mistake and, I am assuming, one of the two companies competing for the work (and it wasn't a lot of work) complained to the SES who watched over contracting efforts. Mr Gartner called me into his office, told me I had done wrong and then sent me back upstairs to do better. Back in the day one learned from one's mistakes and while the ASPR as it was known, was large, it wasn't what the FAR is today.