On-Demand Video: Bridging the Valley of Death Through Funding Flexibility


This webinar discussed a recent report by the Baroni Center for Government Contracting examining execution flexibilities and their ability to help bridge the valley of death in defense acquisition. The panel to discuss included: James Ruocco, Director of Air Platforms and Weapons, in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition; Katie Wheelbarger, Vice President of Global Program Support at Lockheed Martin; and Elaine McCusker, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former Acting Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller).

The discussion looked at efforts to improve the defense budgeting system, which has generally worked well for large capital investments but is not optimized for other investments in modular, cross-cutting technologies such as the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

One of the major challenges is the lack of opportunity for defense officials to allocate resources within the multi-year cycle time of the budget. This creates a proverbial “valley of death” that frustrates everyone involved.

The Center's report examines execution flexibilities such as innovation funds, Program Element (PE) consolidation, reprogramming, and expired funds to find strategies that can help transition new systems into the field faster. The report suggests that accelerating change does not require major overhauls of laws or regulations. The ability to define the content of budget line items is completely within the control of Congress and DoD if they can work together.

This report was facilitated by a generous donation in support of defense acquisition research by Lockheed Martin Corporation.


Eric Lofgren
Senior Fellow & Moderator
Center for Government Contracting

Elaine McCusker
Senior Fellow
American Enterprise Institute

James Ruocco
Director, Air Platforms and Weapons
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition

Katie Wheelbarger
Vice President, Global Program Support
Lockheed Martin

Download the Report.

Download the White Paper.