The NYT is covering the saga of trying to get better vehicles for the troops in Iraq. The interesting part to me is what they left out--namely, why has the procurement process become so horribly cumbersome? The article considers it a force of nature, or an accidental by-product. Nope.
Every problem in there is a product of a Congressman trying to bring pork barrel dollars to his constituents while keeping them from going to another Congressman's district. All of those things--extra tests, drawn out selections, delays in payments--come from laws passed by Congress. Pentagon bureaucrats can work around some of the obstacles, but they know a Congressional committee will call them in front of the TV cameras for a whipping when something goes wrong. And something will. New system development is always error-prone, wars are even more so.
So how do we fix it? Simple. Give the people in charge of procurement the authority to make decisions, access to the people who know what's needed, and forgiveness for the inevitable percentage of mistakes they'll make. Even if that means a contract goes to the district of a junior Congressman of the minority party, or even ::SHUDDER:: buy it from foreigners. All that's needed is for Congress to pass one law giving up their ability to grab pork from the defense budget.
Or maybe the pork will fly away on its own.