Comparative analysis of decision-making processes with respect to U.S. armaments procurement : a case study of the F-16
The overall purpose of this thesis is to question the value of the use of models regarding decision-making as it effectively operates within the environment of US armaments procurements. For example, conceptual framework models such as bureaucratic politics, organisational outputs, incrementalism, and others are far too simplistic in their application to this subject - they only tend to distort reality. The thesis argues that the process is far too complex with decisional centres shifting throughout the life of any one given system, thus necessitating a more realistic conceptual approach. Evidence of this is provided throughout the discussion of the organisational processes and the roles of those involved in the procurement process. Moreover, it becomes apparent that those in the highest positions of decision-making (for example, Presidents, Secretaries of Defense, etc.) are at times least likely to be involved in decisions, dependent on the stage of development of the weapon system. Further, other groups (for example, Congress, Joint Chiefs, etc.) commonly perceived as the decisional centres have little, if any involvement during the earlier stages in the life of a weapon system. The possibility of their involvement increases as the system enters what the author refers to as the hardware phase, when monies must be appropriated. In other words, the system becomes politicised and the expertise of those in higher positions becomes salient, because they are chosen for their political and managerial skills - not their expertise in detailed defence matters. Even the weight of their decisions during the hardware phase is questionable due to the fact that lower level "experts", referred to as DoD Components, with longer periods of tenure, are consistently directing upwards their appraisals of new systems requirements, threats, etc., thus setting the parameters for the higher positioned decision maker. Following the description of the organisational processes and the roles of those involved, the discussion turns to the case study of the F-16 to validate these points. The purpose is not to research a case study and then attempt to extrapolate from it axioms of weapons procurement. The exercise is intended to yield credence to the points referred to above.