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The Department of Defense uses intellectual property (IP) to operate and maintain its weapons systems. IP includes computer software, technical data, user manuals, and more. Over the past 3 decades, we reported that insufficient IP can reduce mission readiness and lead to surging costs.
Getting missile defense systems into the field to defend the U.S. and its allies from attacks is a high priority.
Traditionally, the Department of Defense allowed more flexibility in acquiring these systems.
DOD has faced challenges acquiring new weapon systems—such as aircraft, ships, and satellites—on time and on budget.
In 2018, DOD revised its process for reviewing and approving "capability documents," which identify new or enhanced capabilities in weapon systems.
In 2019, Congress directed DOD to develop a strategy to better engage with small businesses and coordinate small business programs across the department.
We analyzed trends in DOD contracting. From FY 2011 to 2020, DOD spending on contracts with small businesses increased.
DOD relies on contractors worldwide to support contingency operations, which can include armed conflicts, humanitarian crises, and more.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting made 30 recommendations in 2011 to improve contingency contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the past few years, the Department of Defense has been updating how it develops and acquires software for its weapon and business IT systems. It established a software acquisition pathway emphasizing rapid delivery and user engagement, for example, through Agile software development.
The U.S. Space Force is replacing a network of infrared, satellite-based sensors—that provide worldwide initial warning of ballistic missile attacks on the United States—with the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared system (Next Gen OPIR).
The Department of Defense, which spent about $422 billion on contracts for goods and services in FY 2020, has been the target of contracting-related fraud schemes. For example, one contractor pleaded guilty to defrauding the department by overbilling.