In the military, information technology (IT) has enabled profound advances in weapons systems and the management and operation of the defense enterprise. A significant portion of the Department of Defense (DOD) budget is spent on capabilities acquired as commercial IT commodities, developmental IT systems that support a broad range of warfighting and functional applications, and IT components embedded in weapons systems. The ability of the DOD and its industrial partners to harness and apply IT for warfighting, command and control and communications, logistics, and transportation has contributed enormously to fielding the world's best defense force.
However, despite the DOD's decades of success in leveraging IT across the defense enterprise, the acquisition of IT systems continues to be burdened with serious problems. To address these issues, the National Research Council assembled a group of IT systems acquisition and T&E experts, commercial software developers, software engineers, computer scientists and other academic researchers. The group evaluated applicable legislative requirements, examined the processes and capabilities of the commercial IT sector, analyzed DOD's concepts for systems engineering and testing in virtual environments, and examined the DOD acquisition environment. The present volume summarizes this analysis and also includes recommendations on how to improve the acquisition, systems engineering, and T&E processes to achieve the DOD's network-centric goals.