SSE Invited Talk - Michael Pennock "Defense Acquisition: A Tragedy of the Commons"

Monday, February 4, 2013 2:00 am

Location: Babbio 541B and Online via Wimba

SSE Invited Talk
Defense Acquisition: A Tragedy of the Commons
Michael Pennock

ABSTRACT: Despite repeated attempts at reforming the defense acquisition system, US Department of Defense (DoD) programs continue to experience substantial cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. A commonly cited cause is the tendency to set aggressive performance goals for acquisition programs that require the use of the immature technology. This behavior has persisted despite DoD policies to the contrary. To assess the problem, a mathematical model of an acquisition program was developed and analyzed. It reveals that defense acquisition suffers from a tragedy of the commons problem. Acquisition programs serve as a common resource for a diverse set of stakeholders, and these stakeholders are incentivized to pursue overly aggressive performance goals that actually reduce the long-term level of system performance. This result has implications not only for defense acquisition policy but also for general public sector acquisitions.

BIO: Michael Pennock is a Senior Systems Engineer for a major defense contractor where he specializes in model based systems engineering approaches. He previously worked as a research fellow at the Tennenbaum Institute for Enterprise Transformation at Georgia Tech where he analyzed systemic issues in the defense acquisition system that impede reform efforts.  His research interests center around understanding systemic inhibitors to the deployment of technologies in critical socio-technical systems. Michael earned his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at Georgia Tech and his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.