Better Together? The Effect of U.S. Defense Industry Consolidation on Procurement Outcomes



Corinne Zanolli, Stanford University

Date and Time

May 13, 2021 3:15 PM - 3:45 PM


RSVP Required.


Virtual Seminar

THIS EVENT STARTS AT 2:40PM. Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.


* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.


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About the Event: Many policymakers believe that the consolidation of the U.S. defense industry is suboptimal, pointing to cost overruns, program delays, and technological problems with products. Meanwhile, economists believe that there may actually be efficiencies to be gained through consolidation in the defense industry and that therefore, its effects are not always negative. Utilizing a novel approach that combines economic and social science analyses, this thesis asks whether the consolidation of the U.S. defense industry has, in fact, increased costs and schedule delays of major defense acquisition programs and decreased private sector innovation and investment in innovation. Analysis of original datasets of Selected Acquisition Report summary table data from 2000-2020, schedule delay data compiled from GAO Annual Weapon’s Assessment reports since 2003, and company research and development spending of the prime contractors from 2000-2020 suggests that defense industry consolidation leads to negative effects on the cost and schedule of major defense acquisition programs as well as varied effects on private sector innovation/investment in innovation. Case studies of the F-35 and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent illustrate the dangers of the current state of the industry and also raise questions about the efficacy of current economic methodologies for analyzing cost growth of major defense acquisition programs. Policymakers should consider further examination of defense industry competition and M&A activity as well as the benefits of knowledge-based acquisition practices as the Department of Defense moves towards key decision points regarding legacy systems and the future of U.S. defense capabilities.


About the Speaker: Corinne is a senior studying Political Science with concentrations in International Relations and Political Economy. She became interested in public-private partnerships through her work at a tech startup and her thesis expands upon this interest by examining the effects of U.S. defense industry consolidation on procurement outcomes. She has also served as a research assistant on projects about the U.S. intelligence community, offensive cyber operations, and information warfare. In addition to her academic interests, Corinne plays field hockey for Stanford and the USA Women’s National Team.