Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Acquisition Research Symposium



Conference Name

Thirteenth Annual Acquisition Research Symposium, May 4-5, 2016, Monterey, California


As acquisition processes have become more complex, they appear to no longer be governable by traditional approaches. Missed budgets, delayed deliveries, and expensive canceled systems appear to becoming more prevalent. Numerous investigations have been conducted attempting to elicit the factors that prevented success. Those systems that succeed in terms of usability, budget, and delivery schedule are the rarity and often become case studies themselves as we try to extract the characteristics that differentiate success from failure. A different viewpoint is to look at the acquisition system from the perspective of Complex Systems Governance (CSG). Recent developments in the field of CSG are poised to offer insights into the domain of complex system acquisition. CSG, an emerging field grounded in Management Cybernetics and System Theory, offers a set of nine essential and interrelated functions that enable effective governance which includes acquisition. In this paper, after an introduction of our perception of the problem space, we outline the nine essential meta functions and briefly describe the inter-relationships that form a coherent governance scaffold. An exposition of the corresponding CSG reference model is then profiled. We then examine how the meta functions can be applied to acquisition, using the CSG reference model as the framing for an effective governance system. Finally, we offer suggestions and contributions offered by a research thrust in CSG to examine acquisition in a live case setting with implications for the wider acquisition field.


"Approved for Public Release, Distribution is Unlimited"


Bibliographic Information: Part of the Series Complex System Governance

Number SYM-AM-16-060


0000-0001-9452-9105 (Keating), 0000-0002-2213-4929 (Katina)

Original Publication Citation

Bradley, J., Katina, P., & Keating, C. (2016, May 4-5). Complex systems governance for acquisition [Conference paper]. Thirteenth Annual Acquisition Research Symposium. Monterey, California.