Distinguish defense journalist, Hanson Baldwin lamented that the Armed Force Procurement Regulations, the “bible” for military contractors, less than 125 pages in 1947, but 1,200 pages and growing daily by 1965.
He would be both surprised and pleased to find that today’s bible, Defense Department (DoD) Instruction 5000.2 is a fraction of the 1965 1,200 pages, clocking in at a reasonable 172 pages. On the other hand, in the late 1950s, a major contractor assessed, looking carefully at its record, that it took four to five months to execute a contract from the time the Pentagon received an acceptable price to when the contractor received the final document. By 1965, the same contractor estimate that the average had jumped to nine to twelve months; some were completed in a month but other took as much as 23 months. Now that number is in excess of 24 months just for the source selection process, before any capability is fielded.
Download: Slow-Down at the Pentagon
Greg Treverton is an SMA Executive Advisor and former Chair of the US National Intelligence Council, and Dave Patterson is SMA SVP for Strategic Accounts and former Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Comptroller in the Bush ’43 Administration.