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Research Symposium Explores Changes in Defense Acquisition

Article By: MC2 Kellie Arakawa

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Acquisition Research Program hosted the 6th Annual Acquisition Research Symposium May 13 -14 in Monterey, Calif. This year’s theme, “Defense Acquisition in Transition,” addressed pending changes in the acquisition process brought forth by both the new presidential administration and current economic environment.

The goal of the NPS Acquisition Program is to create original research on defense acquisition and procurement processes, focusing on specific facets such as logistics, budget, finance, program management, contract management and manpower. Each year, the program hosts a national symposium for approximately 300 participants from government, academia and industry, bringing together scholars and senior-level practitioners to exchange ideas and formally present their research studies.

This year’s symposium addressed the changes taking place within the acquisition field, and opened with a discussion on the “National Security Acquisition Agenda for the New Administration,” led by Former Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) Jacques Gansler. The forum also included more than 20 different panels and 100 research papers, which covered a myriad of interdisciplinary topics ranging from program and policy analysis to acquisition challenges overseas. In addition to dozens of NPS faculty members, researchers from over 20 other universities participated.

“What makes this symposium unique is that there is no other forum where these senior acquisition people can get together and participate in a public discussion like this,” said retired Rear Adm. James Greene, the Acquisition Chair. “We provide the forum for them to not only talk about changes in acquisition, but other internal issues that directly affect the acquisition process.”

Greene also noted that this year, both the President of the United States and members of Congress have expressed high levels of interest for these issues. “Because the President is very focused on DoD’s (Department of Defense) acquisition processes, and with Congress picking up on this theme as well, the whole DoD acquisition process is going to be in transition … and people are really interested in getting things right as we move forward,” he said.

Feedback from the symposium has been extremely positive, and Greene described this year’s research papers as “absolutely phenomenal.” The rise in high-quality research reflects the growth of the Acquisition Research program, which was established in 2003 with the intention of reaching out to scholars and researchers across the country, not just those at NPS.

“The whole idea of the program is to get some original thought on these [acquisition] processes in order to get ahead of some of the policy making, and I think we are in fact doing that,” said Greene. He added that a number of faculty members associated with the program have testified before congressional committees, and believes that their research and expertise is influencing the way policy in Washington is being written.

Because of its research component, the Acquisition Program also benefits NPS students by enhancing their educational experience. “Our faculty are very much engaged in real, relevant issues facing the DoD … and they can inject their research right back into the classrooms, so ultimately the students are the benefactors of this,” Greene stated. “I think the synergy between the research and education, and what the students then bring to their new jobs after they leave here is really one of the hallmarks of the program.”

He also said the program’s rise in published research is increasing NPS’ visibility within certain areas of the defense department that previously had little exposure to the school. Greene explained that NPS is now being recognized as an institution where solid research is being conducted, with a highly-respected reputation that is expanding internationally as well.

For more information about the Acquisition Research Program and to view research papers from the symposium, visit

Posted June 21, 2009

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