Effective Acquisition Strategies For Systems Engineering And Technical Assistance (SETA)
By: Jacques Gansler, William Lucyshyn, John Paul Rigilano
This report addresses the policy changes that are necessary if the Department of Defense (DoD) is to reconcile its growing need for systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) with the realities of today’s defense industry. The DoD relies heavily upon SETA contractors to facilitate the acquisition of complex systems. SETA contractors are civilian experts who provide analysis and engineering services to the government and often work hand in hand with government engineering staff. This arrangement provides numerous benefits to the DoD. For instance, SETA contractors are able to provide the flexibility and quick availability of expertise to DoD programs without the commitment or expense of sustaining a large, long-term government staff.
It must be emphasized that decisions on many aspects of systems engineering concerning the organization of goods and services by the DoD (e.g., systems architecture optimization, cost performance options, tolerable technology risks, realism of schedule feasibility, etc.) are judgments that are inherently governmental and must be made by government officials with a background and understanding of systems engineering. However, the generation of the analyses and simulation, for example, that inform these judgments can be perhaps best done by private- sector SETA contractors, provided that they are, in fact, independent and, thus, objective.