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Authors: Chad Dacus and Col Stephen Hagel, USAF (Ret.)
Conceptual models based on economic and operations research principles can yield valuable insight into defense acquisition decisions. This article focuses on models that place varying degrees of emphasis on each objective of the defense acquisition system: cost (low cost), schedule (short cycle times), and performance (high system performance). The most appealing conceptual model is chosen, which the authors posit that, if adopted, would lead to shifts in priorities that could facilitate better outcomes, as empirical results suggest. Finally, several policy prescriptions implied by the model are briefly explored.
This article advocates the use of simple technology readiness metrics that focus on system-wide technological maturity. Current DoD practice is to set guidelines for the maturity of individual system components, but the statistical evidence provided in this article demonstrates that more holistic metrics should be adopted. A simple system technology readiness metric is proposed and evaluated based on historical cost and schedule performance, and is shown to be potentially quite useful in avoiding poor acquisition outcomes. Finally, the policy implications of implementing a decision rule based on the metric are explored in depth, and the DoD is advised to pursue and encourage applied research for the development of more comprehensive technology readiness metrics.