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How the Lead Systems Integrator Experience Should Enhance Efforts to Rebuild the Defense Acquisition Workforce Open Access

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Abstract:The primary focus of this paper is on how the lack of qualified acquisition personnel within the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lead the military services to use lead systems integrators ( LSIs) for certain complex programs. This paper explores the growth of LSIs in relation to DOD's and DHS's acquisition of major weapon systems. Namely, this paper will attempt to explain why private contractor LSIs became necessary and what can be done to correct the situation while still advancing the state of the art in major weapons systems procurements. This paper will explore the lack of strategic planning involved in the drastic cuts to the federal acquisition workforce that occurred during the 1990's. This paper will also explore the massive expansion of procurement requirements post-September 11, 2001, and how, despite this increase in workload, the number of personnel within the acquisition workforce remained fairly constant. This paper will examine two high profile examples of LSIs being used to assist the Army and the Coast Guard in the development of their premier procurement efforts: the Future Combat Systems (FCS) and Deepwater program. The problems associated with these efforts received a great deal of attention, which directly contributed to Congressional attempts to limit and eventually prohibit the use of LSIs.Ultimately, LSIs were necessary to advance agency goals in the absence of in-house talent. While the LSI experience generated its share of problems, and exposed the increased potential for OCIs, it was a symptom of a larger problem as opposed to simply being the problem. This paper will also address the foreseeable difficulties of infusing the acquisition workforce with more personnel without strategic planning. Specifically, the military needs a concerted effort, not only to hire competent and professional program managers and systems engineers, but must also continue to train and develop these crucial pieces of the personnel puzzle. While the economic and political environment may make this an uphill climb, the resolve of our political leadership will be necessary to institute the needed infusion of human capital.

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