Original Post Date: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The GAO just published a report saying that strong leadership is key to planning and executing stable weapons programs. And, evidence is presented to back the claim, including result from study of a subset of the 21% of the 2008 defense programs that were deemed stable - on track with original estimates of cost and schedule. What kind of strong leadership made these programs stable? Things like experience, continuity, and open and honest communication, knowledge-based planning, disciplined execution of plans, and establishment of realistic cost and schedule estimates that account for risk are all cited. 

Here’s what bothers me about this when I think of it in the context of WSARA (Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009) – what’s in the act to increase the incidence of strong leadership on weapons programs? I don’t see anything, and I’m aware of the planned 20% increase to the stable of acquisition professionals in DoD. That’s good and may result in more strong leaders, but in 20 years. Problem is, we need them now and even if a handful are scarfed up in the 20% influx, they won’t be in a position to lead. For now, keeping Mr. Gates in charge of DoD is probably our best hope for more strong leadership – he has shown the willingness to replace those who don’t exhibit the strength we need for stability. I just hope he has enough bench strength when he needs to make a replacement.

Bruce Fad
VP of Professional Services, PRICE Systems