A new study by the IBM Center for the Business of Government is suggesting ways to change something that has largely been the same for 50 years: defense contract acquisition.
In conjunction with the University of Maryland, College Park, the study aims to increase efficiency while amassing quality products and services, an important goal when budgets are shrinking as the war in Afghanistan winds down and lawmakers look for ways to cut the national debt.
The study outlined eight reforms that could change defense contract acquisition.
1. Use forms of competition during all phases of acquisition
The consolidation of defense contractors after the Cold War has left the government with fewer options. As a result, innovation has decreased and prices are higher.
“If a defense supplier significantly raises the price of a specific weapon system, in most cases the Defense Department has little choice except to attempt to negotiate the price down,” the report said.
2. Improve the effectiveness of indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts
IDIQ contracts have increased because of their ease; however, they are not always the best option for innovation, according to the study.
3. Use a best value tradeoff source selection strategy
“The government should reduce inappropriate use of ‘lowest price technically acceptable’ as a source selection strategy when procuring complex products and high-knowledge content professional services,” the report said. Instead, best value tradeoff source selection should be used to provide solutions above the minimum prescribed contractors.
4. Use cost-reimbursable contracts for system development
The flexibility of the contract type minimizes the excessive transaction cost associated with contract renegotiation.
5. Remove barriers to buying commercial
“Identify priority industries for which strong linkages are possible between the military and civilian economies,” the report said.
6. Reduce the government monopoly through public-private competitions
“Use public-private competitions to improve the quality and efficiency of the non-inherently governmental functions that are being performed in non-competitive environments,” the authors wrote.
7. Work the benefits of globalization
The government should review and adjust regulations that keep DOD from procuring the best capabilities from global technology.
8. Recruit and retain the best workforce
Quicken efforts to improve DOD’s hiring process and focus on cultivating mid- and entry-level employees through education and internships.