In particular, Chvotkin said the change could deter commercial companies from seeking defense business, as commercial acquisition is a much simpler contracting process. Items that would no longer be considered commercial would have to go through the traditional defense procurement procedure, keeping critical technology out of the hands of the war fighter, he said.
If you ask me, this is a potentially dangerous path for DoD to pursue. The onus for a regulatory change that would de facto limit margins on product sales to DoD would be born by small businesses – who are, by an large, the engine for rapid technology innovation in DoD. Small businesses rely on external investment to underwrite technology development efforts. And outside investors are not likely to risk capital on a venture that is artificially limited to a paltry margin levied by the DoD acquisition bureaucracy.
A better way to approach this problem is for DoD to require cost data for only those products that are substantially underwritten by the government in the form of defense contractors’ indirect rates. If the government is paying for it, whether directly or indirectly, it should have a right to review actual product costs. If DoD is not paying for it, then it should let the market set the price – just like the commercial world does.
Dispute Brews Over Changes to Commercial Acquisition Process | Defense News | defensenews.com.
Within a Grand Strategy, although not supreme, the military will necessarily play a large role. An adaptable strategy requires flexible, rapid procurement systems able to deliver technology when needed. It also requires the ability for on the ground commanders to purchase off the shelf kit, modify it, and utilize innovative non-traditional industrial firms with unique solutions.
Disruptive Thinkers: Grand Strategy, Procurement Failures and Rejecting Mediocrity.
The linked article is worth a read… There are a couple of interesting points:
1) Like it or not, commercial tech will change how the military does business on future battlefields, and
2) Innovation in today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape is a bottom-up process; smart defense means integrating insights from the edge across the entire organization.
I would be curious to learn how far the innovation profiled in the linked article is allowed to proliferate across the Corps…
Disruptive Thinkers: Disruptive Thinking and How the iPad Changed Close Air Support in Afghanistan.
Xbox driving military innovation. Who says doing more with less can’t be fun!
U.S. Army Looking to the Future with Kinect Based Helicopter HUDs.
Kickstarter of Doom: Hoax Site ‘Funds’ Torture Bus, Death Drones | Danger Room | Wired.com.
In all seriousness, crowd sourcing can (and should) be an important tool in finding solutions to global conflicts… One of the best ways we can think of to break the defense-industrial cycle that fuels war is to end the monopoly that big business has on sourcing technologies for the military. And what better way to accomplish this than re-imagining the defense industry through social media?