Tag Archives: Jacques S Gansler

Effective (“Smart”) and Ineffective (“Dumb”) Competition in Defense Acquisition

By The Honorable Jacques S. Gansler, PhD

With the defense budget declining, affordability for goods and services becomes critical; and the cry for more competition is heard from both the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. But “competition for its own sake” can be highly counterproductive. There are good forms (as, for example, “the great engine war” clearly demonstrated; as have numerous cases of “competitive prototyping;” and as has “public/private competition” on non-inherently governmental work). But, particularly lately, these have been numerous examples of ineffective (counterproductive) uses of competition (often creating disincentives for achieving the objectives of higher performance at lower costs). For example: 1) awarding contracts for hi-tech goods or services on the basis of “lowest price/technically acceptable;” 2) creating barriers against the use of A-76 public/private competitions (even though the data overwhelmingly show savings of over 30 percent, with improved performance—no matter who wins); 3) putting unsolicited proposals (with new, creative ideas) up for open competition; 4) automatic recompleting for services every three years (vs. rewarding the current firm with a follow-on if costs are continuously reduced while performance continuously improves—and competing, if not); 5) demand for proprietary data packages, so they can be automatically released for open competition; 6) not utilizing “competitive dual-sourcing” (to save “this year’s money,” even when the historic data overwhelmingly favor dramatic savings, with improved performance—such as was not done for the second engine on the F-35). This paper (and the supporting research) gathers the relevant data and identifies specific current barriers and adverse policies and practices to achieving “smart competition.”

Continue reading