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Title: Money for nothing : understanding the termination of U.S. major defense acquisition programs
Author: Sulmeyer, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 9835
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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How can political science account for the rare cases of major weapons program termination in the United States from the end of the Cold War to 2005? To begin to answer this question, this thesis offers the first definition of weapons program termination to facilitate a controlled comparison. The focus here is on contemporary civil-military relations and the decentralized structure within which these relationships operate with regard to questions of resource allocation. This structure disincentivizes the services and legislators from proposing the termination of weapons programs. Only executive-branch civilians within the Office of the Secretary of Defense are institutionally positioned to propose such terminations. An analysis of the cost, schedule, performance, and relevance of the air force's F-22 aircraft demonstrates how this structure over-determines perpetuation as the standard outcome of the resource allocation process. Using the language of agency theory, I contend that civilian detection of what they perceive as shirking by the military services acts as a catalyst for termination. In general, this shirking may be characterized as perceived malfeasance or chicanery. Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney terminated the A-12 aircraft program once he lost confidence in the navy, prompted by the discovery that his praise of the program to Congress was radically at odds with reality. Twelve years later, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, terminated the Crusader artillery system once they perceived the army was no longer providing trustworthy information regarding the program. This examination reveals how non-structural factors like trust and confidence play a powerful role in extremely bureaucratized, structural processes. Theoretical . frameworks that account for these factors, such as the agency-theory strand of civil- military relations, are therefore particularly valuable to more robust understandings of political decision-making that determines who gets what, when.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available