Feb 2, 2023
The authors present lessons learned and observations from an effort to help inform future U.S. Marine Corps Joint Cyber Weapon program acquisition information requirements and educate Department of Defense Software Acquisition Pathway (SWP) program planning efforts. Programs can better use the SWP by prioritizing the acquisition artifact schedule, ensuring stakeholder communication, tailoring artifacts to program needs, and resourcing the program effectively.
Software Acquisition Pathway Lessons Learned
Published Sep 20, 2023
Because of the long timelines and significant cost traditionally associated with acquiring weapon systems for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), analyses are constantly being conducted to find ways to streamline acquisition and reduce cost. Considering findings from various analyses on acquisition along with direction from Congress, DoD created the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) to improve the timeliness and affordability of acquisition programs. Marine Corps leadership decided that the AAF's Software Acquisition Pathway (SWP) would provide the best path for the Joint Cyber Weapon (JCW) program as it progresses through its acquisition life cycle.
Marine Corps Systems Command requested that the RAND Corporation assist in documenting JCW program acquisition plans. Specifically, RAND researchers were asked to assist the JCW program office in refining key acquisition artifacts required for submission during the planning phase of the SWP. This satisfied a condition for the program to enter the execution phase of the SWP to provide rapid cyber operations capabilities to the warfighter. Drawing on their experience with assisting with the JCW artifacts, the authors discuss several lessons learned and recommend that programs can effectively navigate the SWP by prioritizing the acquisition artifact schedule, ensuring early and ongoing stakeholder communication, tailoring artifacts to meet program needs, and resourcing the program effectively to accomplish these tasks.
This research builds on prior RAND research from fiscal year 2021 that brought together data on operational capability, scheduling, and uncertainty to develop a life-cycle cost-estimating framework for the Marine Corps' JCW program.