This article proposes an initiative for consideration by the acquisition community. The suggestion is not endorsed by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics or any other organization of the Department of Defense.
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Author: D. Mark Husband
The initial version of the DoD’s Better Buying Power (BBP) guidance directed use of “Should Cost Management” as a tool to increase efficiency and productivity in DoD acquisition programs. Over 3 years later, it is worthwhile to examine how programs have implemented Should Cost, the types of savings programs have identified and realized, and best practices and lessons learned that may be adopted or adapted by other programs. This paper provides selected Should Cost implementation examples from 15 Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP) that have resulted in realized Should-Cost savings or initiatives that have an excellent chance of being realized. These programs employed various approaches based on the program’s characteristics and phase within the acquisition life cycle.
Commonality, an increasingly popular strategy in developing complex defense projects, leverages sharing or reuse across projects to significantly reduce life-cycle costs. Despite its potential within DoD as a best practice, programs focused on commonality have met with mixed success. This article argues that commonality strategies must be matched with complementary acquisition strategies to improve outcomes. Full, open competition is not the best acquisition strategy if commonality can unlock life-cycle affordability. Metrics and payment structures must consider the commonality goals to be achieved; otherwise, contractor motivations and government goals will be misaligned. The recommendations in this article draw on commonality research conducted on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which examined 19 DoD, commercial, and NASA case studies.