Proto-tipping the Scales in One’s Favor

The competitive technology-development phase of major weapons acquisition programs has deviated from its original intent in an unwanted way, said Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acting acquisition executive. Conceived to reduce risk in a program’s subsequent engineering and manufacturing development phase via the competing industry teams building prototypes of their respective weapons designs, this phase has become less about reducing risk and more about the would-be weapons suppliers positioning themselves to win the EMD contract, said Kendall during a Center for Security and International Studies-sponsored speech in Washington, D.C., on Monday. “What we were supposed to do in the technology-development phase is develop technology,” he explained. “What was actually happening, in some cases, was that people were not trying to reduce a risk; they were trying to win.” Data show that this “is happening fairly widely,” noted Kendall. The remedy: “smart people on the government side” insisting “that we get the risk reduction that we really need,” he said. (CSIS’ transcript of event) (CSIS webpage of event with audio)