Articulating the Effects of Infrastructure Resourcing on Air Force Missions

Competing Approaches to Inform the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System

by Patrick Mills, Muharrem Mane, Kenneth Kuhn, Anu Narayanan, Jim Powers, Peter Buryk, Jeremy M. Eckhause, John G. Drew, Kristin Lynch

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Research Questions

  1. What is the effect of funding infrastructure below stated requirements?
  2. What are the strengths, weaknesses, and relative implementation burden of various analytic approaches to answering the question above?
  3. How can the weaknesses of each approach be mitigated to make them most useful in the Air Force context?
  4. What steps can the Air Force can take to implement these concepts and to improve its ability to develop a systematic, evidence-based case for sustainment, restoration, and modernization funding within the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) process more generally?

The Air Force civil engineering community has found that its methods for articulating infrastructure funding needs and mission impacts in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) process are insufficient, and it is in the process of investigating alternatives. This analysis explores the relationship between Air Force infrastructure management and mission capability and risk. The goal is to identify methodological approaches and data requirements for articulating and quantifying these links and enabling the Air Force to answer the question: What is the effect of funding infrastructure below stated requirements?

The authors identified three alternative approaches for answering the above question: a project scorecard approach, an approach based on mission outcome metrics, and an approach based on composite risk metrics. In this report, the authors assess the strengths, weaknesses, and relative implementation burden of each approach, and they explore ways to mitigate the weaknesses of each approach to make them most useful in the Air Force context. Finally, they identify steps the Air Force can take to implement these concepts and to improve its ability to develop a systematic, evidence-based case for sustainment, restoration, and modernization funding within the POM process more generally.

Key Findings

Analytic Approaches to Articulating the Effects of Funding Infrastructure Below Stated Requirements

  • A project scorecard approach is easy to understand and implement, but the mission impact of some projects may be uncertain, this approach may involve an overwhelming amount of information, and it tends to focus on the near term.
  • A mission outcome metrics approach involves building logic and mathematical models to link and quantify the effects of infrastructure funding on mission outcomes. Such an approach can provide interesting insights and can express long-term impacts, but mission outcome models can be costly to develop, and not all missions may be amenable to this kind of analysis.
  • The composite risk metrics approach entails gathering and synthesizing data about infrastructure performance (using metrics like condition and functionality), applying performance thresholds based on user needs, then translating those ratings to some kind of holistic risk framework. This approach takes advantage of the Air Force's current information systems and can express long-term impacts, but this is the most abstract of the three approaches, and it requires fully populating the Air Force's data systems.
  • All three approaches may have a place in the Air Force as it transitions away from the status quo, though choosing a path ahead will require more thought and collaboration with infrastructure users and Air Force decisionmakers, and implementing that approach will likely require gathering more information.
  • Infrastructure-to-mission mapping exercises appear to have several potential side benefits.
  • Solid risk analysis and communication are necessary, but not sufficient, for successful advocacy for infrastructure funding in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) process.

Recommendations

  • Assess the POM environment more deeply to determine the best way to implement the project scorecard approach to capitalize on its ease of implementation but avoid its pitfalls.
  • Continue to fully populate existing sustainment management systems, and embrace and implement new ones as they are launched, with an eye toward informing a composite risk metric approach.
  • Make targeted assessments to determine when to use models to quantify mission outcome metrics.
  • Undertake high-level institutional action to educate stakeholders about the effects of infrastructure underfunding.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Current Infrastructure Management Practices

  • Chapter Three

    Three Approaches to Linking Infrastructure to Mission

  • Chapter Four

    Linking Infrastructure to Missions with Mathematical Modeling

  • Chapter Five

    Applying Methods to Air Force POM

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix

    Select Findings from Literature Review of Commercial Approaches to Tracking and Forecasting Condition and Cost

The research described in this report was sponsored by Maj Gen Theresa Carter, former Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, Engineering, and Force Protection, and was conducted within the Resource Management Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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