Retired General Arnold Punaro, Chairman of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Business Board task force was recently quoted saying that he would “put a match” to the entire set of regulations governing the acquisition of weapons and military equipment and start over. This is a colorful comment by such a senior advisor to the Department, but it is also prescient.

In fact, the DoD over-regulates its process for acquiring new weapons and equipment for the military. This is made obvious by the thousands of pages of regulations described in the task force’s report from earlier this year.

While even General Punaro acknowledges that the match solution is impractical, the sentiment behind it is laudable. The current regulatory system for defense acquisition has evolved over the years, by adding layer upon layer of rules and new bureaucracy such that the system now fails the common sense test. It so segregates decision authorities and responsibilities that the components of the acquisition bureaucracy cannot communicate with each other effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, the regulatory system itself is responsible.

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