Three Programs and Ten Criteria

Evaluating and Improving Acquisition Program Management and Oversight Processes Within the Department of Defense

by Robert V. Johnson, John Birkler

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Acquisition in the Department of Defense (DoD) is a major undertaking in which the defense agencies and the military departments expend significant funds to procure everything from research to development, to test and evaluation, to production, to operational support, and, finally, to obsolescence. The opportunities for problems to occur and the unique challenges posed in dealing with those problems in a high-technology environment require constant vigilance at all levels of management within DoD. Problems in major defense acquisition programs, when accurately identified, can be a source of guidance for improving acquisition-management procedures. As part of a broader attempt to improve the acquisition-management controls and oversight processes used in the defense acquisition system, this report synthesizes a set of lessons learned from an analysis of past problems, and in the process, identifies and evaluates innovative approaches to program management. It also develops a framework for evaluating management practices in ongoing development and/or production programs. The framework then serves as the basis for reviewing and evaluating the technical aspects (e.g., organizational structuring, reporting channels) of a top-priority development program in each Service: the Navy’s F/A-18E/F aircraft, the Air Force’s F-22 fighter aircraft, and the Army’s RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter. This is done without directly comparing the three programs, since each of the three programs is its Service’s top priority.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), under RAND’s National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the OSD, the Joint Staff, and the defense agencies.

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