Proposed Acquisition Teamwork and Cycle Time Improvements
National Center for Advanced Technologies
1250 Eye Street, N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20005
EVOLUTIONARY DEFENSE ACQUISTION
April 19, 1996
The recent Cost as An Independent Variable (CAIV) and Overarching Integrated
Product/Process Teams (OIPT) policies emphasizing cost and performance balance,
on-going tradeoffs and timely elevation of major tradeoff decisions to
executive attention are excellent new programmatic themes in the Department of
Defense. Current revisions to the DoD Directive 5000.1 and DoD Instruction
5000.2 reflect many improved acquisition concepts that the department has put
forth as individual policy initiatives over the past several years, and which
represent constructive improvements over the current series. Industry supports
the inclusion of concepts such as the use of Integrated Product Process
Development (IPPD), employment of commercial products, specifications,
standards and practices, and acquisition management incorporating Cost as An
Independent Variable (CAIV.) Considering that the DoD-5000 documents are
updated only about each half-decade, it may, however, be an opportune time to
pause and ask why other such good ideas like Design-to-Cost, P3I, Acquisition
Streamlining, Award-Fee, Value Engineering and Performance Specs were all
started with high expectations, but somehow did not improve defense system
affordability in a major way.
We believe that such policies have always been dependent upon solid
government/industry teamwork and shorter overall acquisition cycle time.
Various underlying impediments in the defense acquisition process have worked
at cross-purposes to these needs over the years and can again impede the new
We have identified some of the main obstacles to effective government/ industry
teamwork, as well as reasons for today's long acquisition cycle time. The
teamwork impediments include a group of solicitation and contracting practices
which have caused characteristics from the fixed-price-development era to
linger during the award and management of new programs. These have also
combined with recent legislation to chill worthwhile cooperation during the
pre-award period. Even the new DoD-5000 drafts convey a guarded approach to
teamwork with industry; including guarded cooperation on the IPD/CAIV
initiatives where solid teamwork is essential.
As to the long overall cycle time today's acquisitions are driven principally
by the pipeline nature of the many phases, anchored around drawn-out EMD
The impediments to government/industry teamwork can be overcome by adoption of
a pro-active roadmap, or trust-model, for government and industry to cooperate
on the implementation of the new DoD-5000 policies. Although this can also
help shorten today's long acquisition process, thoughtful consideration is also
needed to making a major improvement in cycle time.
We propose the following strawman approach which can both represent a roadmap
for teamwork and permit a system development process on the order of 3-5 years.
By combining proven practices from successful military and commercial programs
with team-based execution of the CAIV/OIPT principles, this approach replaces
today's long, multi-phase process with a much shorter cycle. Industry and the
OSD should work together to implement the details of this approach in
implementation of the new acquisition policy documents.
DoD and Industry jointly should give thoughtful consideration to making
watershed changes to shorten the process. Such changes need not be risky or
unproven. A body of "lessons-learned" is available from successful military
and commercial programs upon which to confidently structure a new process.
Indeed, the use of integrated product development, combined with modern
concurrent engineering and precision manufacturing tools, could permit a
version of the recent ACTD concept to be the new acquisition norm, with a 3-5
year development cycle including initial fielding for user tactics and
Such a new process, entitled "Evolutionary Defense Acquisition" (EDA), is
summarized in the following section. It preserves and enhances the CAIV
principles and the necessary teamwork outlined in earlier remarks, but
replaces today's multi-phase cycle with a much shorter process. To provide a
basis for full examination of EDA, implementation specifics are also set forth
along with some of the key lessons-learned programs from which information was
taken to formulate the process. Although there are actual recent programs used
as models to form the EDA concept, the approach should also be "piloted" on a
few programs for validation.
Evolutionary Defense Acquisition
Existing DoD-5000 phases could be replaced with a process using 3 to 5 years to
develop and field systems in step with modern technology cycles. It would
focus on mainstream US defense needs into the next century, including precision
weapons, C3I, information warfare and technology upgrade to existing aircraft,
ship, battlefield and space systems.
The new process could be called "Evolutionary Defense Acquisition" (EDA),
stressing an intent to replace today's culture with an affordable, incremental
approach. The baseline for Major System development would be 5 years,
including fielding and user Opeval of a battle group size production prototype
lot. The Opeval would establish concepts of operation, tactics and doctrine
for single and joint service use, determine readiness for full production and
affirm the next level of required system growth. Equally important, the battle
group prototypes would serve as a quick reaction warfighting resource,
sustaining a modern, economic American defense structure and guarding against
defacto disarmament under budget downsizing. The baseline for development of
Non-Major Items would be 3 years or less, including fielding of a low-rate
production lot for similar Opeval and contingency warfighting uses.
EDA would be built around an incremental approach to operational performance.
"Threshold" requirements would apply to the initial battle group prototype or
low-rate production fielding lots, with incremental "objectives" introduced
later as system upgrades. The threshold would represent the minimum
operational performance with current technology to make an initial system
fielding, while the objective level would represent longer term goals which may
be upgraded into the system in pace with evolving technology. These
requirements would be managed using CAIV tradeoffs at milestones throughout
development and Opeval to keep performance and cost in balance, avoid grand
design systems and mitigate program risk.
EDA Implementation Details
Technology and Requirements Validation Before System Development
Rapidly paced commercial subsystems can provide varied, economic
technologies for many Non-major Items and some Major Systems; while
independent contractor R&D and Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrators
(ACTDs) can rapidly prototype defense-unique technologies or integrate
commercial subsystems for complex defense uses. The cycle time and better
understood performance/cost characteristics of these technologies will also
permit firmly planned thresholds and incremental performance objectives.
Acquisition Milestones and Approvals
EDA would use three decision milestones. Milestone A, Requirements
Generation, represents provisional approval to begin a new program. Milestone
B, Development and Opeval, commits to a new development inclusive of a battle
group production prototype lot for Major Systems or a low-rate production lot
for Non-Major Items, including Opeval testing of these. Milestone C,
Production, commits to the approved production rate together with a plan for
incorporation of the incremental grow-to upgrades at block change points.
Competitive Source Selections
Under EDA, there would be one major competition for the "Development and
Opeval Phase". BAFOs and risk-averse awards would be replaced with selections
based on the first principle of EDA - best balance between performance, cost
Concurrent Engineering and Precision Manufacturing Technologies
Concurrent engineering and precision manufacturing technologies will be
used to ensure that both the production prototype and low rate production lots
under EDA are manufactured with virtual-production cost effectiveness, quality
and operational fidelity.
The contracting structure for EDA would be patterned after the black, X-model
and commercial programs described below. Cost Plus Incentive Fee/Award Fee
contracts should be designed to incentivize balance between performance, cost
EDA would use lean Integrated Product Teams, made up of acquisition and
user experts joined by industry development experts; all focusing on continuous
cost benefit tradeoffs to balance performance, cost and schedule. Empowerment
would be within the IPT, subject to corporate-type Delegations of Authority.
IPTs would also manage Opeval testing, using non-organic contractor logistic
support until full production. IPTs would avoid costly subteam structures or
management tools contrary to the streamlined EDA contracting approach above.
Past Successful Practices
Successful management practices from recent military and commercial
developments have been drawn upon to help define EDA. A highly successful
black system, a missile defense system, an X-Model airplane, a new commercial
air transport and an advanced technology electronics item have been selected
because their successes are most relevant to EDA:
F-117 Tactical Fighter - This program has become a hallmark of
successful acquisition practice. During a brief period in the 1980s, this
highly advanced system was developed and fielded as a 59 aircraft wing, typical
of smaller battle group deployments likely in the future. Operational
requirements focused on a short list of three principal characteristics --
stealth signature, range and weapon accuracy. These were constantly traded off
to foster heavy use of existing F-18, F-16 and F-15 subsystem assets,
permitting funding to be focused on the new stealth technology. The
development and fielding cycle was very short; non-value technical, management
and financial reporting was excluded; and long term funding stability was
emphasized to avoid year-to-year incremental funding disruption.
Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) System - THAAD uses
DoD-5000 phasing in a relatively positive way. During Phase I, an initial
missile defense capability to combat today's basic threats is fielded for user
operational evaluation. Phase II is to develop system upgrades for expanded
capability. THAAD's strategy is important because it breaks away from the
grand design culture for basic fielding and shortens development cycle time.
X-31 Aircraft - This fine cooperative effort between the US and
Germany used barebones funding, contract tasking and solid teamwork to fashion
the first new X-Model program in decades. It was managed using approved
"contractor plans" and, much like the F-117, it uses existing subsystems in
areas not critical to its advanced combat aerodynamics.
777 Transport - This new air transport uses technology for
incremental performance growth, affordability, safety and passenger comfort;
rather than a grand design leap in capability. Emphasis on long term supplier
relationships achieved unprecedented reductions of lead time to less than a
year; not on counterproductive recompetitions or second sourcing which cause
data rights issues and preclude long term logistic support/maintenance by the
original team. Oversight and reporting is principally to support FAA
inspection and safety needs.
Precision Location GPS Receiver (PLGR) - This 17,000 unit program
is a fine example of the use of commercial practices on a military requirement.
The contractor developed the equipment outside of the DoD-5000 process and the
production offer permitted the government to either reduce or eliminate
DoD-5000 mil-specs, standards, data, clauses and overhead cost. Reductions
within the procuring agencies authority provided 20% savings and full
elimination of DoD-5000 requirements would have provided a 37% savings.
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