Professionalism in Defence Acquisition: The Importance of Knowledge and the Concept of the Intelligent Customer

Professionalism in Defence Acquisition: The Importance of Knowledge and the Concept of the Intelligent Customer

David M. Moore (Cranfield University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0599-0.ch014


This chapter discusses the nature of professionalism generally and then in the contextual setting of defence acquisition. Changing socio-political and economic pressures have resulted in a paradigm shift in the way that the public sector based business of defence acquisition is undertaken. There is policy movement towards greater commercialism but the rhetoric has not necessarily led to improvement in performance. Indeed, criticism of acquisition performance has been constant for some time. With improved professionalism, and the legitimisation of the professional prerogative and practice of personnel within the acquisition community, a move away from reliance upon process led decision making, could result in enhanced acquisition performance. This requires the development of relevant knowledge, in a suitable format, such that acquisition professionalism can enable an ‘Intelligent Customer' perspective. It recognises the need for education and training, balanced with relevant experience as the basis of professional knowledge and the concept of an ‘Intelligent Customer'.
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Defence Acquisition Challenge

It has been indicated by some commentators that defence acquisition is no different to any other civilian and / or commercial organisation whilst others will indicate that the defence acquisition environment is both more complicated and more complex. Whatever the view, there is a tension between the need to move forward, on one hand, with best practice concepts and thinking from leading commercial organisations and, on the other, the public sector arena where there is a great need for probity, transparency and, quite naturally, the need to spend taxpayers’ money wisely. Certainly, the last thirty years have seen a major shift from the arms-length procurement characterised by competition as the means to optimise performance, to fully integrated acquisition with suppliers as partners, even as in house facilitators of process driven change e.g. the recent introduction of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) within the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation. In turn this requires a consideration of the challenges associated with this change and the continuing challenges that face the defence acquisition environment and thus impacting upon the development of defence acquisition staff and their ‘professionalism’ in line with an emerging body of knowledge, which is often located across global supply chains.

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