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One of the more challenging goals in programming is to link Air Force budget program element investments to operationally relevant capability metrics and to use these metrics to assess any risk incurred by a proposed program objective memorandum. The authors apply and extend a capability-based approach to the depot maintenance business areas, specifically focusing on depot purchased equipment maintenance (DPEM) as a first step. DPEM funds the bulk of the work done at Air Force depots that does not involve the repair of spares or work on modification programs. This report presents an analysis of how to better program for DPEM. It emphasizes the importance of defining metrics that relate directly to objectives in operational plans and that are defined broadly enough to embrace a range of funding areas. Programming trades can be prioritized according to weighting factors that express the ratio of the resource levels needed to meet the objectives in operational plans to those that are in the combat-coded inventory. The authors also note a few areas — software maintenance, sustaining engineering, and technical orders — that require a different approach.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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