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A podcast on the management, technology, and political-economy of weapon systems acquisition.

A podcast on the management, technology, and political-economy of weapon systems acquisition.
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A podcast on the management, technology, and political-economy of weapon systems acquisition.






Capt. Mark Vandroff (ret.) on people, process, and delegation

I was pleased to have Mark Vandroff speak with me on the Acquisition Talk podcast. He served 30 years in the US Navy before retiring as a Captain, with his most recent positions including the Program Manager of the DDG-51 shipbuilding program (2012-2017) and Commander of the Carderock division of the Navy Surface Warfare Center (2017-2019). In the episode, we discuss why scientists and engineers should read the classics, how to manage large and complex organizations, why we must start with...


Panel: From the Lab to the Battlefield

In this episode of Acquisition Talk, we’ll listen in on a panel discussion hosted by the Lincoln Network that focuses on defense acquisition, called, “From the Lab to the Battlefield: maximizing defense innovation.” This event took place during the Reboot American Innovation conference on May 2, 2019. The speakers include Linda Lourie, who is the Associate General Counsel for Acquisition & Logistics –- Pablo Carrillo, the former chief of staff to Senator John McCain and a current counsel for...


Bruce Gudmundsson on learning by decision-forcing case studies

Bruce Gudmundsson joins me on the Acquisition Talk podcast to discuss the great work he is doing down in Quantico putting together case studies on military operations and acquisition. The case studies are different than you might see in business schools. He takes historical situations and puts you in the shoes of a central character. Bruce provides a lecture on the background, gives statistics and other images that help you understand the terrain or technology, and then at critical junctures...


William Hartung on Lockheed Martin and the Military-Industrial Complex

William Hartung joins me to discuss his book, Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex. In the episode, we discuss many of the defining moments of the defense industrial base, including: contract terms and cost overruns on the C-5A during the 1960s; the Lockheed bail out and international bribery scandals of the 1970s; the spare-parts pricing scandals of the 1980s, such as the $600 toilet seat; and the industry consolidation in the post-Cold War...


Mark Mandeles on organizing for technology change (part 2)

In this episode Mark and I talk about whether science is slowing down, the benefits of positive feedback loops, what the central task of analysts ought to be, how we create high reliability organizations, what's the role of history in weapon system projects, and much more. I also ask Mark about how some of the great thinkers of the 20th century should impact our thinking about acquisition. From Charles Perrow on high reliability organizations and Martin Landau on the benefits of social...


Mark Mandeles on system design principles (part 1)

In this episode of Acquisition Talk, host Eric Lofgren speaks with Mark Mandeles about a wide range of topics in defense management. Mark has had a fascinating career and has written numerous books and articles including The Development of the B-52 and Jet Propulsion, and, Military Transformation Past and Present. Mark talks with me about how military organization impacted the innovation process, why it is impossible to predict the growth of scientific knowledge, how the B-52 development...


Richard Whittle on the V-22 program development

Rick Whittle joins Eric Lofgren on Acquisition Talk to discuss his book. In this episode, we learn about the development of the V-22 tiltrotor technology. It allows an aircraft to take off and land vertically -- like a helicopter -- and transform its rotors to face forward -- allowing it to fly with the range and speed of a fixed-wing airplane. Rick Whittle tells us why the sales process between the contractor and Government is a "courtship"; the difficulties of a 50/50 partnership between...


Victor Deal on contracting, innovation, and acquisition improvement

In this first episode of Acquisition Talk, Eric Lofgren speaks with guest Victor Deal, who is currently the director of contracts and grants at the Universities Space Research Association, and before that, was an Acquisition Innovation Advocate in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Victor has played an integral role in developing and deploying contracting methods which allow the Government to move quickly, harness new technologies, and bring in firms that traditionally would not have...