Cover: Identifying Acquisition Framing Assumptions Through Structured Deliberation

Identifying Acquisition Framing Assumptions Through Structured Deliberation

Published Dec 4, 2014

by Mark V. Arena, Lauren A. Mayer


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Research Question

  1. Can a process be developed to help project teams identify program acquisition framing assumptions?

This report documents the structured process that was developed to help project teams identify acquisition framing assumptions (FAs), which are useful in defining and tracking key program assumptions throughout the life of an acquisition program. The process describes a structured deliberation workshop (in the form of a briefing) used to facilitate a deliberation with the aim of identifying candidate FAs. The report provides an introduction to the concept of FAs and an overview of the approach used in the briefing to identify FAs. It includes an overview of structured deliberation, some of the important concepts in having a successful session, and suggestions on how to tailor questions related to program risk areas to help elucidate FAs.

Key Findings

A briefing has been developed to introduce framing assumptions and explain their importance

  • An accurate framing assumption is central in shaping cost, schedule, and performance expectations.
  • Explicit framing assumptions, made early in a program's life cycle, may help the Services better manage major risks to programs.
  • Those involved in deliberations to develop framing assumptions should include a mix of people with different backgrounds.
  • Each candidate framing assumption should be foundational and program-specific and have no workarounds.
  • Potential framing assumptions should be ranked, so that 3 to 5 can be selected for the program under discussion.

This research was sponsored by the Performance Assessment and Root Cause Analysis (PARCA) office and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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