Revisiting Requirements

By Jason Simpson / April 27, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Former Pentagon acquisition chief John Young today highlighted the MQ-4 Global Hawk program in reflecting on what he sees as a flawed Defense Department requirements mindset.

In his last meeting with reporters as DOD's weapons buying czar, Young said, “I find myself wishing that I had pushed harder in several spaces on requirements, and maybe even had a more major initiative to go and review the fact that I now have programs governed by ((600- or)) 700-page requirements documents that may have 1,000 requirements -- and several hundred of those requirements are tradeable.”

Centering his thoughts on the high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, Young said the program has roughly 240 requirements, and 100 of those are “tradeable.”

“Because they exist on paper," he said, program officials are testing those “tradeable" requirements. “What did it matter, if you had a tradeable requirement -- i.e. it was tradeable and you don't have to deliver it -- now I'm going to test to see if I delivered it or not? I mean, I'm spending money in ways that just aren't efficient, so I've got to keep changing the mindsets there," he said.

Programs like that, Young said, make him wish he had “pushed an initiative in requirements harder,” but noted that there are “a lot of great things that have been done” in other acquisition programs, particularly those that have featured joint analysis teams.