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Abstract

Congressional concern with cost overruns, or breaches, in several major defense acquisition programs led the authors, in a partnership with the Performance Assessments and Root Cause Analysis Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, to investigate root causes by examining program reviews, analyzing data, participating in contractor briefings, and holding meetings with diverse stakeholders. The analysis of cost overruns in four programs revealed several contributory factors, including changes in the economy, misestimation of costs, and inadequate program planning. Underestimation of baseline costs; increases in component costs; insufficient Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation; inflation; and increased, inadequate, or unstable program funding were identified as root causes in all four programs.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One:

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two:

    Congressional Concern with Growth in Program Costs

  • Chapter Three:

    Zumwalt-Class Destroyer (DDG-1000)

  • Chapter Four:

    Joint Strike Fighter (F-35)

  • Chapter Five:

    Longbow Apache Helicopter (Apache Block III)

  • Chapter Six:

    Wideband Global Satellite

  • Chapter Seven:

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A:

    Legal Definitions Applicable to Unit Cost Growth Breaches

  • Appendix B:

    Vulnerability Matrix

  • Appendix C:

    Technology Readiness Levels

  • Appendix D:

    Cost Estimates from Other Organizations

  • Appendix E:

    Effect of Low Original WGS Baseline Costs

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted within the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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