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Defense Acquisitions - How DOD Acquires Weapon Systems and Recent Efforts to Reform the Process

April 23, 2010Congressional Research Serviceby Moshe Schwartz, Specialist in Defense Acquisition  Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to acquire goods and services are often complex and controversial. These efforts are referred to as defense acquisitions. The structure DOD utilizes to plan, execute, and oversee those activities is an intricate and multivariate “system of systems” composed of the requirements, resource allocation, and acquisition systems. This system of systems has evolved over time, its foundation being the report published by the Packard Commission in 1986, many of whose recommendations became part of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. This evolution continued, as the requirements system changed from a threat-based to a capabilities-based system; the resource allocation system added execution reviews and concurrent program/budget reviews; and the acquisition system became a flexible, tailored process.

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