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The development stages of a major weapon system acquisition are inherently concerned with the management of risk. This study seeks to understand how the primary actors--the system program office (SPO), supervising command, Air Force Headquarters, Department of Defense (DoD), the contractors, and Congress--interact to shape and manage risk in major weapon system development efforts. The report, which integrates the results of seven case studies, finds that the problems the Air Force and DoD have with managing risk lie in implementation, not policy. Realistic cost, schedule, and performance goals, coupled with quality personnel, are the keys to good risk management. Senior officials in the Air Force and the DoD should understand the intense advocacy environment that shapes the recommendations of their subordinates.

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