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The management and oversight of a major defense acquisition program are exceedingly complex processes. The U.S. Department of Defense has a well-established set of policies, procedures, and organizations for program management and oversight, described in the "5000 series" of directives and instructions. Not all weapon systems fit comfortably within this framework, however. In particular, ship acquisition programs have characteristics that deviate from the normal framework, including concurrency of production and subsystem development, low production quantity and rate, varied test and evaluation procedures, and a unique relationship between milestone decision points and actual construction status. The authors explore these differences in detail, suggesting policies that can better account for the differences in ship acquisition programs without compromising oversight or establishing an entirely separate process.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    How Are Shipbuilding Acquisitions Treated Differently in Policy?

  • Chapter Three

    Stakeholder Interviews

  • Chapter Four

    Program Comparisons

  • Chapter Five

    Ship Acquisition Alternatives

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions and Recommendation

  • Appendix A

    Summary of Other Acquisition Documents Relating to Shipbuilding Programs

  • Appendix B

    Additional Ship and Nonship Program Data

The research described in this report was prepared for Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the United States Navy. The research was conducted in 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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