Paralysis by Analysis

Robert Kozlowski, writing at the US Naval Institute’s USNIBlog has a good post that shows a startling graphic.

http://i1.wp.com/blog.usni.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/DARPA-SLIDE.png

Open the graphic in a new tab to see the whole thing.

I’m curious what happened to the acquisition process in 1975 that lead to such a sharp increase in the time needed to field a weapon system.

But the key thing is, time is money. Lots and lots of money. Now, you’ll say, XBrad, the items like the B-2 and the F-22 are pretty cutting edge technology. And so they are. But so were things like the B-58, and the F-111. Notice also, the F-117, a cutting edge technology, had minimal oversight, and yet it reached IOC well below the trendline.

I’d expect to see some increase in the trendline of development times. But I’d expect to see something more like that commercial aircraft timeline, or even a little steeper. But clearly, something in the process of acquisition has changed. And Kozlowski argues that it is the intense oversight. I’m agree. And I’ll note that the purpose of the oversight was to ensure money spent was well spent. Oddly, the oversight, both within DoD and from outside, be it the GAO or Congress or whomever, has stretched the timelines to untenable lengths. We’ve already seen programs such as the RAH-66 Comanche that ran so long in development that they were obsolete before they were even ordered into production.  And I’d argue that the drawn out development and oversight costs more than simply mismanaging programs in the first place would have.

1 thought on “Paralysis by Analysis”

  1. The upward line would be even worse if the F-117 had been identified as the transition point rather than the F-16.

    Also, if the data was adjusted to have the start of the project as the horizontal instead of the end of the project, it would seem to show that we haven’t finished a project that has started later than when Reagan was President

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