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Have you ever bought a vehicle with thousands of dollars of extra add-ons, which you didn’t want and know you won’t use? My guess is, if you did, it was out of necessity and not something anyone would chose to do. Who would want to increase their overall purchase price for things they can’t and won’t use? I for one would not.

Unfortunately, this is the normal reality when it comes to support equipment in the DoD, especially test sets. A vendor creates a solution with little or no user input, markets the solution and then charges a premium to modify the solution. This creates a reality where it’s cheaper to purchase the “off the shelf” solution, even if it means purchasing features or parts that will never be used.

Initially, this might seem logical, select the cheaper initial purchase price to save the program funds up front. However, we should be asking “what is the life cycle cost of the item?”. I can’t tell you how many times I had to inspect test set cables or optional equipment that had never been used. Some units have gone as far as to remove these items, put them in boxes and bury them in storage rooms never to be seen again. At the time, this may seem like the best and most reasonable solution, but is it really?

As I grew through the ranks I began seeing this scenario much differently, and even began questioning the situation. Why did we purchase an item which is seldom or never used? Why do we inspect, store and track said items? The reality is twofold. First, vendors not understanding or caring about the differences in missions and not willing to create scalable, configurable solutions, enabled by a system that doesn’t force them to address these issues. Second, haphazardly created Business Case Analysis (BCA), excluding or not accurately depicting all aspects of the overall life cycle cost.

Both of these have created organizations which have overpaid for equipment initially and continue to pay to sustain extra equipment over the entire life of the item. In essence, units are paying twice for these items. Industry and government acquisitions authorities have a duty to create or purchase solutions tailored to the units’ needs. The units have a responsibility to demand more tailored solutions, such as auxiliary equipment kits, modifiable products and common multi-use accessories, to reduce program cost and eliminate wasting precious man hours.

If you’re being offered a solution which isn’t common, universal and configurable, I’d recommend that you keep searching for a new solution. It's 2021, not the 1960s.